Five bucks and one gator bagged in same day

  • Friday, February 28, 2014

John James Johnson was recognized by the Ithaca Gun Co. for killing 16 deer without a miss using his Ithaca double barrel shotgun.

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the two-day Winyah Bay Heritage Festival. For the first time, the Festival will be held on Front Street and it’s free.

Every year during Festival time, I quote the late James Henry Rice, Jr. from his book Glories of the Carolina Coast, published in 1925. Rice wrote, “Winyah Bay at Georgetown has many a scene of beauty, unsurpassed anywhere. Black River, mile after mile, strikes one dumb.”

Yes, Winyah Bay is beautiful, and the Winyah Bay Heritage Festival celebrates the rich bounty of the Bay and inland areas of Georgetown County. Hunting, fishing, and conserving what we have is what the Festival is all about.

Months ago I ran across an article published on Sept. 6, 1913, in the Georgetown Times. I saved it, not just because it mentions some of my family members, but because it’s about deer hunting, the King of Sports back in the day.

Deer hunting was not just a sport – it put food on the table for many a family. It was important enough to garner big headlines on the front page of the newspaper, such as this one: “HUNTING SEASON! TWO PARTIES GET FIVE BUCKS.”

On the opening day of deer season, a party of 40 to 50 hunters travelled to Pine Island to hunt deer with dogs. Pine Island was described as being about 18 miles from Georgetown.

Among those in the party were A.F. McDonald; my Great-Grandfather John James Johnson and his brothers David, Tim, and Ernest; A.O. Holliday; P.C. McClary; Raymond and Marion Smith; J.F., Will, and Mac Carraway; Mr. Venters; Mr. Mobley; and Hugh Johnson.

Three bucks were killed, one by Raymond Smith. The reporter wrote, “In accordance with the ancient custom, Raymond Smith received his baptism in blood, for the first deer.”

The hunters were delighted that the 3 bucks killed were free of ticks. “Their skins were as smooth as satin and as unblemished as a French ballet dancer’s.”

On the same day, a hunt was held on Captain F.G. Nesmith’s land. Among the hunters were F.L. and J.R.S. Siau; T.W., Frank, and Miles Bellune; Herman Carraway; Frank Seignous; J.H. Tiller, with three friends from Chesterfield; Mr. Sapp; Mr. Brunson, of Florence; and Walter McDonald.

The reporter writes, “The driver for the party was Frank Ford, colored, who knows the woods about as well as the deer themselves. Ford got ‘em up and the gunners did the rest.”

“Frankie” Siau and Miles Bellune each killed a buck. “Since both are seasoned deerslayers, there was no bloodying on this trip.”

For those not familiar with bloodying, when a hunter kills his first deer, he is smeared with blood from his prey. Yep, it’s the truth.

Finally, the article reports another chase that day. It started in the Battery White section of Winyah Bay. Captain Conklin was on a government dredge in the Bay when he saw an antlered buck take to the water. He also saw something black follow the buck into the water.

Through his binoculars, Capt. Conklin saw that the black object was an alligator and it was gaining on the deer. Conklin yelled to his deck hand to bring his rifle, as he “didn’t relish the idea of the deer falling a victim to so mean a hunter.”

The deck hand fired repeatedly at the ‘gator until it stopped and disappeared. The buck circled in the water, then swam back to shore. “The Captain rather hopes the two-legged hunters didn’t get it.”

Don’t miss the Winyah Bay Heritage Festival, celebrating the beauty and bounty of our area. You’ll see duck decoys, art, pluff mud gear, jewelry, snakes, the Palmetto Dock Dogs, and much more.

To the GDCL . . . thanks for the memories.

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

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