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Dispatches from the Field: Guide to the Southeastern Wildlife Expo

From Garden & Gun

Each February, we watch from our office windows in Charleston as the big white tents go up across the street in Marion Square. For three days (February 13-15), the annual Southeastern Wildlife Exposition is as close to an outdoorsman’s paradise as you’ll find this side of a duck blind. There are birds-of-prey demos, fly-casting classes, decoy carvers, duck call makers, wild game cooking lessons, art shows, guides, gear, book signings, lectures, fine gun shops, shopping, dining, and drinking. And dogs—lots and lots of good dogs. Working your way through that kind of lineup is a pretty daunting task, so we went ahead and did it for you.

1. Hit Up the Decoy Auction - - Hosted by the world’s largest decoy auction house, Guyette and Deeter, the SEWE sale will include more than two hundred investment quality carvings with a focus on Atlantic Coast decoys—from the work of the Ward Brothers to Elmer Crowell and Mark McNair. Starting bids range from $200 to more than $10,000 for the rarest birds. Look over the lots on Friday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. until noon. Bidding begins Saturday at 2 p.m.

2. Acquire Some Sporting Art - - Organizers have very thoughtfully put all the art—paintings and sculptures—in one convenient place. Head over the second floor ballroom of the Charleston Place Hotel to browse work from some of the best outdoor and wildlife artists from the South and beyond. Last year, we scooped up one of Curt Butler’s abstract landscapes. He's back again this year along with more than a hundred others.

3. Shop for Shotguns - - Even if you’re not in the market for a new gun, you should make time to stop by and visit with the knowledgeable folks at Griffin and Howe. Purveyors of the finest firearms since 1923, the company carries shotguns by the likes of Purdey and Beretta. During SEWE, they’re also offering complimentary dry gun fittings.

4. Experience Dock Dogs - - Remember when we said there would be dogs? This is where you’ll find them, the bulk of them at least. The only two-tank DockDogs competition east of the Mississippi, the contest, held at Brittlebank Park, runs the length of the weekend and is open to any size or skill level of dog. Watch as retrievers, labs, spaniels, terriers, and lovable mutts launch themselves through the air and into big saltwater tanks. Or enter your own pup for a chance at the title. (Pre-registration is required.) The finals—where we hope to see G&G’s own Pritchard—are on Sunday, and offer the most impressive action.

5. Hang with G&G - - Come find us. All weekend long at Marion Square, shop our G&G Mercantile pop-up and bring your pooch to enter the 4th annual Good Dog Photo Contest. On Friday, join us at Brittlebank Park for fly-tying lessons with Jones Fly Co. out of Nashville, Tennessee. We’ll be back there on Saturday for grilling demos with Charleston Chef BJ Dennis.