In conservation circles, Rocky Evans was the face and voice of Quail Unlimited for decades.
Here in Augusta, where the Albany, Ga., native spent most of his life, Rocky was also a loyal friend to countless fellow outdoorsmen who shared his passion for bird dogs, fine shotguns and any excuse to be outside.
Rocky died last week - and his funeral was held Friday, which would have been his 67th birthday.
He will be most remembered as co-founder of Quail Unlimited, based in Edgefield, where he served as president and executive director for 28 years.
Locally, he will be remembered as a Richmond Academy graduate and a founding member of Devereaux Hunting Club who did everything he could to promote hunting and conservation as valued assets to be handed off to future generations.
About four years ago, already in declining health, Rocky also penned his memoirs in a book, How to Hunt Good, which he characterized as “a collection of humorous hunting stories to help navigate the difficult times in life.”
It contained plenty of great stories (including many about local folks whose real names were used).
There were also some welcome firsthand lessons about the value of the outdoors as a tool to help survive tough times.
“Everyone faces challenges and difficult individuals in our daily lives,” he wrote at the time. “With all my failures of my early days in the woods, fields and forests, if I didn’t laugh at myself, I’d probably be in a facility.”
More than anything else, he told me for a 2013 column, the book was an effort to encourage its readers “to live life to the fullest, to appreciate each day (especially those outdoors) and to laugh often.”
It was a lesson he mastered as well as anyone. Rest in peace, old friend!
COYOTE REWARD: South Carolina’s Department of Natural Resources is launching its new program to control coyotes, which includes a possible reward of a lifetime hunting license for killing a specially tagged animals.
The department will tag and release four coyotes in each of four designated game zones, and provide the lifetime license as a prize for the lucky tapper or hunter.
In addition to the license prize, anyone who has registered for the state’s Coyote Harvest Incentive Program who takeds a specially tagged incentive coyote will also be entered into a drawing for a .243 caliber Savage Model 11 Trophy Predator Hunter centerfire rifle/scope combo (or similar item if said model is not available, or similar value item as determined by the Department)
Early registration period is open until December 1, 2016. Extended registration is open until April 1, 2017. Only one registration per person. Details are available on the S.C. DNR web site.
TREE RECYCLING: This year, with low lake levels, anglers should have an easier time building submerged fishing attractors from old Christmas trees.
The Army Corps of Engineers will accept trees for recycling Dec. 26 through Feb. 1, 2017 at Hartwell and Dec. 20 through Jan. 11, 2017 at Thurmond.
The primary dropoff site for Thurmond Lake area residents will be Riverside Middle School located in Evans.
Corps rangers and volunteers will place submerged trees around fishing piers to act as fish attractors and improve fishing habitat. Small trees and brush provide cover for fish, particularly as nursery areas for juvenile fish.
Additional trees will be staged at select ramps around the lake to be used by the public. Trees can be picked up by fishermen any time for personal use until Feb. 1 from any of the Hartwell drop-off locations. At Thurmond, anyone wishing to obtain a list of locations where the trees will be available should contact the office after Jan. 11.