Brad Harvey: North Myrtle offers up ‘head scratcher

August 26, 2012 

Many of my greatest childhood memories of summertime are of family beach trips and all that they encompassed. We built sand castles, swam, hunted for sharks’ teeth, swam some more, looked for a few seashells here and there, went crabbing and fished along the surf.

I fished a lot, in fact.

Each year, for that one magical week, I had the pleasure of pulling out the old surf fishing rod that we’d hauled all the way down there and soaking bait for hours, while my mother made sure that my nose was well lathered up with that awful, snow white, zinc oxide stuff that was supposed to keep my sniffer from getting fried by the sun. Boy, I hated that stuff.

It didn’t really matter to me what I caught when I was out on the surf. For me, it was all about the mystery of it. After all, that big old ocean was full of fish that we just never got to play with back home in the pond behind our house or out on our dock at the river.

That’s right. I said the river. In those days, “Lake Wylie” was just a name on a map, and nobody referred to it by that. In my book, it is and always will still be just “the river.” (Old habits do, indeed, die hard.)

Out on that beach, we used all kinds of bait that we never used on the Catawba, either. There were shrimp, bloodworms and even live squid that we caught in seine nets back in the creeks.

It’s just hard for me to imagine what my life would be like today had I not had all of those saltwater experiences with hook and line. Would I still be as obsessed with a life outdoors as I am today? Would I even be typing this column now? It’s hard to tell.

Sadly, some in the city of North Myrtle Beach are attempting to take this opportunity away from folks who visit their fair town. Last Monday, before their regular council meeting, the elected officials got together for a workshop to discuss a new city ordinance relating to surf fishing they might put into play in the near future. One of the proposals made included an all-out ban on surf fishing during the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

They claim this is for safety reasons and don’t want folks getting stuck with fish hooks while swimming and such. I’m sorry, but aren’t pretty much all activities that take place on the beach inherently dangerous to some degree? I’ve never heard of someone drowning on the beach while holding a fishing rod. I guess they better hurry up and outlaw swimming there, too!

But, seriously, have they simply lost their collective minds? Or maybe it’s just an ill temper flaring from their long history of being just “the other Myrtle.” I mean, really. Have you ever heard anyone make the statement, “We’re vacationing in North Myrtle Beach this year?” I doubt it. For as long as I can remember, the entire Grand Strand has been collectively referred to as just Myrtle Beach. Bet that sticks in their craw, huh?

I would love to have the opportunity to just sit down and let someone explain this to me. Maybe they could put in plain words how anyone has a bigger right to go swimming than someone else does to fish.

And, this doesn’t even take into account that the fishermen out on that beach are licensed by the state to do so with the monies collected going toward habitat improvement. If we’re gonna be fair, start selling “swimming permits” so that it’s a level playing field.

I’m kidding, of course, but that’s not as ludicrous as this local legislation would be.

For the record, their big brother to the south sees no reason for such ridiculousness. The City of Myrtle Beach states clearly on its web site that surf fishing is welcomed. You can bet your last dime that, if this ban passes, I’ll never pull another from my pocket to spend it in North Myrtle.

DNR offers youth deer hunts

Kids ages 10 through 17 now have the opportunity to take part in the upcoming deer season even if they don’t have an adult to take them.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, along with several private landowners and hunt clubs, is sponsoring the hunts throughout the Upstate, aiming them at youngsters who are attracted to the sport but don’t feel that it’s open to them.

According to a news release from the agency, “DNR is specifically looking for young people who have an interest in hunting but don’t have anyone to take them,” stated Gerald Moore, a DNR wildlife biologist based in Union. “These special hunts are designed for a growing number of youth today who don’t have a parent, relative or close friend that hunts and can provide them proper exposure to the hunting experience. As a result, many of today’s young people are missing out on a challenging and enjoyable recreational activity.”

These hunts will take place on prime ground including such areas as Union, Spartanburg and Cherokee Counties, among others. Available dates include Oct. 20, Nov. 10 and 17 and Dec. 15.

On these dates, participants will be required to complete a short training course on gun safety and visit the rifle range to fire the gun that they will be using that day. All firearms are provided for those needing them and an adult will accompany each hunter during all activities.

Anyone interested in taking part is encouraged to visit the DNR website for an application (www.dnr.sc.gov) or call 864-427-5140 for an application. The deadline for applying is Monday, Sept. 17.

Brad Harvey is a freelance writer in Clover. Visit his website at bradharveyoutdoors.com

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