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Excursion teaches local Boy Scout troop intricacies of outdoor living

Twelve-year-old Addy Almonta and Rob Birchmeier show off a 42-inch red drum caught and released from South Island during a camping and fishing trip in November. Contributed photo
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

Boy Scouts of America Troop 360, based out of the Litchfield Beach-Pawleys Island area, kept it close to home for their monthly outing in November.
The scouts of the troop decide on their monthly excursions early in the year, and agreed on a November trip to South Island, which is on — you guessed it — the south side of Winyah Bay where it flows into the Atlantic Ocean.
Thirty scouts from the troop packed up their gear and on Nov. 18 headed to the private barrier island, which is part of 20,000 acres of the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center donated to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
“They love South Island,” said Randall King of Murrells Inlet, one of the troop’s assistant scout masters. “This is the second straight year they’ve decided to go to South Island.”
The theme for the outing was fishing, and there was plenty of that over the weekend on the island, which includes a beachfront area and a stretch along the channel of Winyah Bay.
The youngsters used fresh shrimp to catch whiting, croaker, spots and stingrays, plus went crabbing for blue crabs with great success.
Twelve-year-old scout Addy Almonta had the catch of the weekend when a channel bass, also known as a bull red drum, inhaled a piece of cut shrimp on his medium-class spinning rod-and-reel.
“He fought it for 15-20 minutes,” said Rob Birchmeier, another assistant scout master. “It was everything he could handle, it was all any of us could handle.”
Almonta’s huge red drum measured 42 inches before it was carefully released, another lesson for the scouts, which ranged in age from 10-17 years.
The excursion was part of earning a fishing-related merit badge, as the scouts had to catch a fish, clean a fish, cook a fish, eat a fish, and leave no trace of their time spent on the island. They also learned the intricacies of reels, tackle and rigs, and knot-tying.
Of course, they also were able to experience and learn to respect a pristine coastal area that has been preserved for generations to come.
“That’s the part I love about it,” said Birchmeier. “We live in such a fantastic area, and how fortunate we are to be able to access South Island. For the boys to experience what we have here is the goal on this trip.
“Conservation is a big issue including fish handling. All the boys had to go over the regulations, they had a (S.C.) DNR measuring tool, and they had to know what the species were.”
Of course, the scouts enjoyed South Carolina seafood on the excursion, as fresh as it gets.
For more information on Troop 360, visit www.troop360bsa.com.
10-4 Bucks
The Murrells Inlet father-son duo of Peter Gerace and his 8-year-old son Cullen were hunting private land outside Lake City earlier this week in late afternoon, when the deer activity ramped up.
“A 10-point walked out first, and I shot him but I thought I missed him,” said Peter Gerace. “He jumped straight up in the air, and ran off healthy.”
The Geraces stayed put in their stand and moments later a 4-point walked out.
“Cullen wanted to shoot a buck, and this was perfect,” said Peter Gerace. “He shot it, and the deer rolled over. I went to check on the first one but there was no blood. I walked about 50 yards into the woods and was about to give up. Then as I was turning to walk back it caught my eye.”
The Geraces wound up with Dad’s 140-pound, 10-point and Cullen’s first deer, the 4-point.
“We were very excited,” said Peter Gerace. “We hadn’t hunted much at all this year, but it was one of those days where it all worked out. I was more excited about the 4-point than the 10-point. It was one of my biggest deer, but there’s something about having your kid shooting one. That trumps everything.”