The Low Country Coat- In the early,1930s through the mid-1950s, southern outdoors-men, watermen and guides, hunted, fished and lived in the finest "outfitter grade" clothing ever made. These American-made garments were designed out of necessity and experience, not fashion or trends. They were "no frills", heavyweight and literally lasted for generations. Small American manufactures like Drybak Saf-T-Back DuxBak and American Field built garments that included hunting and field coats,"briar britches", watermen and extreme outdoor work coats, pants and "overalls".
In the 1950s, due to costs of materials and manufacturing, these garments disappeared from the shelves of outdoor outfitters, hardware stores, and sporting goods retailers, only to be replaced by man-made materials and production run imported clothing. The standard fabric for these garments was a double thickness, 100% cotton canvas "Southern Grown" cotton duck cloth. This heavy-weight tight woven fabric, primarily made for other uses [tents, sails,all weather tarps, etc.] derived its name from a duck stenciled on the original fabric imported from England and Scotland prior to floor and grist mills being converted to cotton duck mills to support the U.S. east Coast Clipper Ship Building business. Secondary materials like harness grade leather,suede, and solid brass were utilized to complete these "nothing to break--nothing to wear out" garments.
In the late 1960s, I acquired one of these original canvas duck coats actually made in the 1930s, by DuxBak. It quickly became my favorite garment. many referred to it as "my uniform"-- if I went, it went! In 2007 while attempting to replace my coat, I learned of there disappearance, there history and -- in the process-- the memories and stores from many about their grandfathers and great grandfathers canvass "bird hunting" coats. Having enjoyed my coat for so many years and not wanting to see this small part of Southern outdoors" lost I am proud to build and offer as Red Fish Brand Marsh & Field Clothing Outfitters, these same high durability and quality garments
Coosaw Island Briar Britches- Coosaw Island is one of over sixty eight "large islands" that lie off the coast of Beaufort, South Carolina. These islands, plus many more small islands, form the Sea Islands of South Carolina, extending from the Savannah River Delta over one hundred miles to the Savannah River. Coosaw is located to the north of St. Helena Island and the Morgan River; to the east of Lady's Island and Lucy Creek; to the west of Morgan Island and the Atlantic Ocean and to the south of the Coosaw River and the mouth of the Combahee River and South Carolina's Ace Basin. In the early 1970s Coosaw Island became my favorite "play ground". Coastal development had not reached Beaufort County and Coosaw was forgotten by most. Mostly inhabited by an abundance of wildlife of every low country size and shape. "Wild Bird" quail coveys could still be "kicked up", dove flew from what seemed every direction and yearly high tides pushed Marsh hens out of the grass by the dozens. Because of its closeness to the Atlantic Coosaw's tidal creeks and marsh system hosted some of the finest Red Fish and Flounder flats anywhere! The Fishing Deck on the Coosaw River Bridge was the best Winter Trout spot in the Low Country. Growing up in Beaufort I enjoyed many days on Coosaw bird hunting, fishing from the bridge, shrimping, digging oysters or just exploring what washed up with the next tide.
Hilton Head Island Marsh & Field Coat- In the late 1800s, with the loss of all "Sea Island" long staple cotton and coastal South Carolina almost forgotten, many plantations and barrier islands along with thousands of acres in the Low-country and Georgia were purchased and turned into the finest hunting preserves, plantations, clubs and lodges in the world. Hobcaw Barony, Spring Island, Palmetto Bluff, Pinckney Island, Hilton Head Island, and Georgia's Cabin Bluff were only a few of the large Sea Island tracts purchased for these private island retreats. From the late 1890s through the 1950s Hilton Head Island provided the "best of the best" southern hunting and outdoor adventures on the entire east coast. The Clydes, Hunleys,Thornes, and Lomises built, maintained and staffed hunt clubs and lodges on a large portion of the island. The Beaufort Hunting Club, The North Carolina Hunting Club and The Hilton Head Island Agricultural Club were three of the most well known of the times. These clubs and lodges provided "overseers" gamekeepers, guides, dog handlers,and cooks. Stables were built for small coastal horses called Marsh Tackies. They were sure footed animals, perfect for mounted hunts and to pull hunting wagons and carts. The Island was a natural game preserve! Scrub Oaks, Long Leaf Yellow Pines and Palmetto trees provided shelter for abundance of deer and turkey. Undeveloped fields offered cover and food for quail and dove. One game keepers journal recorded 264 wild quail coveys on a days hunt. The Island's tidal creeks and marshes provided marsh hens, by the hundreds, on "full-moon tides" and rice was grown in fresh waterways for duck and geese on southern migrations. Wild Hogs were also abundant island wide and provided great sport and excellent table fare! For many years hundreds of sportsmen from the world over enjoyed the natural beauty,coastal climate and wildlife on Hilton Head Island. A noted Pinckney Island guest was quoted as saying, "wildlife abounds as does serenity and piece of mind". Although Hilton Head Island now has a different face and identity its Hunting Heritage will always be a part of Southern history.
Caines Brothers Snakey-Neck Mallard Decoy Buckle-The Caines brothers, Hucks, Sawney, Ball, Bob and Pluty were low-country watermen on and around Winyah Bay, near Georgetown, South Carolina. They cultivated and harvested rice, built boats,worked as commercial fishermen and oystermen,made and sold moonshine and gunned ducks in the Sampit, Great Pee Dee, Little Pee Dee and Waccamaw rivers for markets in Charleston, Greenville,and Raleigh N.C. The Caines brothers, by necessity, lived hard. They lived and existed off the land and out of the water. They worked hard to provided for their low country families.
Between 1905 and 1907 Bernard M. Baruch, a native South Carolinian, Wall Street Financier and adviser to the United States Presidents, purchased Hobcaw Plantation as a winter hunting retreat. At that time Hobcaw Barony covered approximately 17,500 acres of land located between the Winyah Bay and the Atlantic ocean. (The word Hobcaw is an early Indian name meaning the land between the waters) Bernard Baruch recognized the watermen and gunning skills of the Caines brothers and hired them to be hunting guides and fishing guides for Hobcaw Barony. The brothers guided duck, turkey, wild hog and deer hunting trips for presidents, governors, statesmen and dignitaries from all over the world. Grover Cleveland, Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill were all guest of Barnard Baruch at Hobcaw. According to Baruch they enjoyed the finest hunting anywhere! The Caines Brothers carved and shot over their own hand carved and painted duck decoys at Hobcaw Barony. It was said that the brothers were as daring with there carvings as they were with there life style! There decoys were carved, finished and painted by hand to the very best and finest of every minute detail. The Caines brothers made their decoys larger than the ones made by Cobbs, Hudsons, and Crowells. The larger size made them more visible to high flying ducks over Winyah Bay. It is estimated that the Caines carved approx. 550 decoys while working as guides at Hobcaw Barony. Only about 50 known examples still exist today, Because of the very limited numbers Caines Brothers decoys are rarely sold privately or at auction houses dealing in Folk Art. In 1992, at an important American Waterfowl Decoys Auction in Maine, a Caines' preening mallard drake decoy sold for 165,000.00, with in minutes its' mate , a snakey-neck mallard sold for 92,000.00. Today the grandsons of Hucks Caines, Jerry and Roy Caines, continue the legacy of decoy carving in their home town of Georgetown, S. C. Their decoys are considered among the finest works of our times.Their decoys won several top awards at the Ward Brothers World Championships Wildfowl Carving Competition and Festival in Ocean City , Maryland. Their decoys are admired and appreciated by waterfowl collectors all along the east coast.