-By Rich Miller
If you would have told me five months ago that Lake Hartwell would be almost full by the first of June I would have bet the farm that it wouldn’t have. And I would have lost. Lake Hartwell is a reservoir where the Tugaloo river and the Seneca river come together to make the head of the Savannah River. Other than a big playground for fishermen and boaters it is also the main water supply for eastern Georgia and the upstate of South Carolina.
Last February Hartwell Lake was where the Super Bowl of bass tournaments, the Bass Master Classic, was held, and at the time the lake was about 17 feet below full pool. By the end of 2008 the lake was over 22 feet below full pool and with us still in a drought it didn’t l look like things were going to get any better either. There were only a couple of boat ramps open and you could only get small boats launched without tearing anything up. When you did get on the lake you had to be very careful because of standing trees and high places all over the lake. There were places on the lake that had not been out of water since the lake was backed up in the early 1960’s. After the first of this year we started getting rain on a consistent basis and the lake started slowly rising. It is now the first of June and the lake is only about three feet from full pool.
All of this rain is great and I am very thankful for it but it presents a lot of challenges for hunters that are also part-time wildlife managers. As a turkey hunter all of these spring rains make me cringe because I worry about nesting turkeys. If the hens are successful in hatching their eggs, heavy rains take their toll on the small poults. We need to have good hatches on a yearly basis to have successful hunting seasons.
These rains have also affected all of my other management plans as well. They have made it impossible to get a tractor in the fields to do any plowing or planting. For the places close to home this hasn’t been much of a problem, but there is one place that I don’t have many opportunities to get to, and every time I have had a chance to get there it has been raining or too wet to do anything. My summer plots for deer aren’t a big deal because all I have to do is get them in the ground and they will do their job. Now, my dove fields are a different story because timing is a very big deal when attracting doves. If you get your dove fields planted too late they will not be mature in time to start drawing the doves to the area and that can make for some long days in the field in the hot September sun.
It seems like every year our challenge to overcome has something to do with rain, now most years our worries are because of the lack of rain. This year it is the opposite and I think that it is the better option. Even though we may not get some of our fields planted good old Mother Nature has a lot of ways to make up for our short comings.