We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Yesterday morning I left the marina at first light and headed out to one of the coves across Lake Murray for some largemouth fishing. I'm cruising along when I saw this thing bobbing along off to my left. At first I thought it was a submersible (hey, that is possible) or an errant catfish trot line (more likely), but it was moving too fast - about 1.5 mph. As I moved closer, it turned out to be a four point buck just swimming along enjoying a Sunday morning swim across the lake.
Of course, I didn't have my HD Flipcam, the point 'n shoot or my big DSLR - I had my cell phone with its crappy lens and awful telephoto. I moved in as close as I could and shot the video, but when I tried to get really close, he veered off away from land and I didn't want that. So I got what I could get, backed way off the deer and followed it into landfall. He made it just fine and dandy - got up on the beach, turned around, took a look and headed off into the woods. Job well done.
I knew deer can swim a fair distance, but this one was in for a good mile and a half of exercise given where he was and the direction he was heading.
Lake levels are low because of the yearly draw down and with respect to "their already at risk numbers to decline even further - ah, also no. For all practical purposes in South Carolina, there is no practical limit on deer - up to ten can be taken.
Yeah - I know - I didn't believe it either. It sounds like a lot but the herd here is so huge that there isn't any other way to reduce the population.
It's like stripers on Lake Murray - the last three weeks of the season (usually - sometimes longer, sometimes shorter), there is a unlimited creel limit. The reason is mortality - bringing them up from cool depths to near 90ºF surface temps kills them anyway. As soon as the surface temp dives below 78ºF, the limit is off. Believe it or not, that happens in the space of a week or so - four weeks ago it was 87ºF, yesterday, it was 68ºF.
According to my handy dandy GPS, he was moving along at 1.5 mph - pretty good clip. And he was throwing a wake which surprised me.
I went up to Lake World to speak with Richard the owner - big time local guide, hunter, outdoors man. He showed me a picture taken two years ago of about fifteen deer, two bucks and the rest does, swimming from the SCE&G park to Pilot Point - a distance of 2 miles. They all made it too.
Well I learned that when I was a kid in High School. I was scouting around in the woods before deer season started, and spooked a couple on the edge of a large pond in some woods. One jumped one way and the other jumped towards the pond and right down a narrowing finger of land -a spit I guess - towards the water. This I knew so followed the deer on down, intending to get close to him as I could, and figuring he would finally break and run past me on one side or another.
He got to the narrow tip of the spit and the water stopped him. I didn't bother with being quiet or anything, so he must have been able to hear me, but when he looked around and saw me he just jumped right in the water and lit off across the pond. He only had about thirty-five yards to go to the other side and did it pronto.
We're not seeing that down here, but I understand that there is some evidence that the CT herd, in places, is suffering from that.
I also learned something kind of interesting yesterday. You know that Asian carp infestation everybody has been up in arms about? It seems that they've been too successful and are dieing off at a prodigious rate due to lack of food sources. And in places where they were the only game in town, the local fish populations are recovering.