Debby Summey: Black bears, bobolinks, and Winyah Bay

  • Friday, March 1, 2013

This is a rewrite of a column I wrote on Jan. 14, 2011.  The Winyah Bay Heritage Festival was held that weekend.  Guess what?
This year’s festival starts tomorrow, March 2, and goes through Sunday, March 3.  Some of the same vendors are back and I can’t wait to see them.  
Just as I did in 2011, I recently reread one of my favorite books, “Glories of the Carolina Coast,” written by James Henry Rice, Jr. and published in 1925.  

Rice passionately loved the South Carolina coast.  In his research, he visited Georgetown County many times.

Rice wrote, “Winyah Bay at Georgetown has many a scene of beauty, unsurpassed anywhere.  
“Black River, mile after mile, strikes one dumb.  
“I am not an unbiased judge of Waccamaw, being influenced too much by early associations, but nothing is risked in classing it among the most beautiful of Americans rivers.”

Because the Winyah Bay Heritage Festival celebrates hunting and fishing, I’m going to limit my thoughts to the wildlife described by Rice.  I’ve lumped together the extinct, near-extinct, and plentiful.  You’ll also see residential and migratory birds in the same paragraph, as well as fish and fowl.
Remember, the wildlife described by Rice is based on his research of earlier times as well as what he observed up until 1925.  Much has changed since then. Rice, sometimes in detail, describes the following:

Anhinga (snake bird), alligator, black bear, beaver, bald eagle, bobolink, bluebird, bass (striped and channel), blue-gill, and bream.
Cardinal, crow, coot, curlew, cuckoo, cormorant, cowbird, deer, dove, dowitcher, duck, egret, fox, grackle, and gull.

Heron, hummingbird, hawk, ibis, (white and wood), kingfisher, and kite. Mullet, mockingbird, muskrat, mink, osprey, oyster, owl (great-horned, barred, barn, and little screech), opossum, otter, partridge, perch, pike, pelican, puma (panther), porpoise, and quail.
Rail, rabbit (cottontail and pond), skunk, swallow, sunfish, snipe, shrimp, squirrel, sandpiper, turtle (terrapin and loggerhead), tern, turkey, tarpon and trout.
Vole, vulture (turkey and black), wolf, wapiti, wildcat, woodcock, willet, and yellowlegs.  
Rice was a hunter, but respected and admired his prey.  He wrote, “Deer are fine swimmers. I have known them, when pursued on Waccamaw Neck, to take to the ocean and go far outside the breakers, remaining out until turn of tide, when they invariably come in, disdaining men and dogs.”

“In crossing a river a buck will swim right by an alligator and is never molested; but the dog behind is always seized and dragged down.”
On bird hunting he wrote, “The partridge is, to my mind, the finest game bird in the world.  
“None affords such pure sport.  None is fitter for a table delicacy, and partridge is a game bird in all senses of the word.  
“There is no excuse for calling them quail.”What hunting trip is complete without a good hunting dog?  My late Uncle Johnnie Bell Johnson was an avid hunter.  
His first dog was a Walker hound named “Fly”.  He owned many hunting dogs through the years, but his favorites were “Hold Tight” and “Hang On.”
The Winyah Bay Heritage Festival is hosting a very special event this weekend, the return of the “Palmetto Dock Dogs.”  
Watching these dogs compete in the sport of dock diving is fun and exhilarating.  My only problem is that I can’t help falling in love with every one of these brave dogs, and I want them all to win a prize.

“Glories of the Carolina Coast” is a short book (133 pages).  It is an easy read if you love the Carolina coast.  
And if you love Winyah Bay and the surrounding area, you’ll attend the Winyah Bay Heritage Festival this weekend.
I believe that James Henry Rice, Jr. would endorse this festival if he were with us today.

To James Henry Rice, Jr. ... thanks for the memories.

I may be reached at (843) 446-4777 or email at djsummey@gmail.com.








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