Charleston natives Charles Waring III and Gus Smythe are hoping that the release at the end of this month of a feature DVD about duck hunting on the Santee Delta will capture the attention of viewers and propel their dream into a complete season of "Traditional Wild America" outdoor adventures.
There's a similarity, not to mention a small relationship, to the award-winning outdoors show "The American Sportsman" which aired from 1965 to 1986 and featured celebrities and their hosts participating in hunting and fishing trips. Waring said that the seeds for "Traditional Wild America" were planted years ago when his father was working for the Evening Post (an afternoon newspaper that in 1991 was combined with the News and Courier to become today's Post and Courier).
Waring said his father Charles Waring Jr., received an assignment in 1966 to interview entertainer Bing Crosby when Crosby and his wife Kathryn were hunting at Medway Plantation in Goose Creek. Several years later, Crosby and Bob Hope were featured on a quail hunting episode of "The American Sportsman" and Waring summoned his son to watch the show and recounted the interview with Crosby.
"That stuck with me. I was fascinated with the idea of having an outdoor show about things that we loved, things that were familiar. Since my father was involved with it and since it meant so much to him, it obviously meant a great deal to me. That's where the seed was planted," said Waring, who is publisher of the Charleston Mercury newspaper.
Waring said discussions with friends over the years, including Smythe (a longtime play and film director) about their love of the outdoors, helped hatch the idea something along the lines of a modern "American Sportsman."
"What kind of flavor would it have? How do you make a show that's different? What are (other) shows missing? What could make them better?" Waring said.
As they began looking for answers, Waring and Smythe were convinced the show should include more history, more art, more literature, more conservation interspersed with hunting and fishing.
The introduction to "Duck Hunting on the Santee Delta" includes the following tribute:
"We are indebted to those selfless hunters and fishermen who took us afield and imparted valuable lessons about stewardship of the extraordinary woodlands and waters of our bountiful nation. We honor those who left our souls fueled with a hunger for natural beauty and a constant longing for the spirit of the chase."
The first episode is no run-of-the mill hunting show. Interspersed with the duck hunting are period photographs of the early days of hunting in the Santee Delta. Author Virginia Christian Beach reads from her book "Rice and Ducks." Dr. Richard Porcher talks about how the Santee Delta, located in northern Charleston and southern Georgetown counties, was transformed from a cypress gum swamp into rice fields which became the money crop for early American settlers.
Porcher points out that the abandoned rice fields are today "some of the most wonderful waterfowl habitat you'll find anywhere." Porcher noted that there are more than 150,000 acres of abandoned rice fields in South Carolina, including 10,000 in the Santee Delta.
Firearms expert G. Harris Jordan talks about the vintage double-barrel 12-gauge shotguns the hosts are shooting. Sporting arts authority Burton Moore III talks about antique decoys. Duck calling enthusiast Michael Lalich demonstrates different duck calls. Hans Offringa, author of "A Field Guide to Whisky," discusses adult beverages. And Lowcountry Chef F. Preston Wilson prepares duck breasts for the table.
There's a Lowcountry oyster roast. Conservationist and land manager Michael Prevost talks about what is required to maintain properties such as those found in the Santee Delta.
"Conservation has always been in my DNA and in the DNA of everybody around us. In the show you'll see conservation emphasized more than anything else, perhaps more than hunting," Waring said.
Producer Ron Small was enthusiastic when approached with the idea for the series, Waring said. They began scouting locations in December 2018, shot the pilot in January 2019 and aired the premier of the film on April 16, 2019.
"We've done one full-length (48 minutes) and we've done a bucket of shorts. On our website there are some cooking shorts, gun safety, the right way to make a Bloody Mary. We have plans in writing for a full season," Waring said. "The idea is to release the film and go out and show people what we have. We have momentum. It's time to raise money for the rest of the first season."
Waring said plans are to produce DVDs and stream episodes through Amazon Prime. "Duck Hunting on the Santee Delta" DVDs will be available June 30 at traditionalwildamerica.com. Seven more episodes will be filmed this year, including the hosts taking their flyrods to the Soque River in northeast Georgia in quest of record rainbow trout, hunting ruffed grouse in western North Carolina and taking part in a driven deer hunt in South Carolina.
America's Boating Club Charleston
America's Boating Club Charleston will offer a free boater education course for youth ages 12-18 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday at the Roper Berkeley Medical Building, 300 Callen Blvd., Classroom B, in Summerville.
The class will cover such topics as rules of the road, required safety equipment, communications afloat, and jet ski safety. Participants will earn the SCDNR Boater Education Card required for motor boat operators under 16 years of age. Pizza lunch will be provided. For information or to register, contact Billy Lynes at firstname.lastname@example.org or 843-312-2876. The class is limited to 15 participants.