Duck hunters finished the season with a flourish on most S.C. Department of Natural Resources public hunting lands, with a total harvest of 4,431 birds, an average of 1.99 birds per hunter, down slightly from the 2.2 birds per hunter reported last year. A total of 2,225 hunters participated in these popular hunts at the 15 Wildlife Management Areas that recorded individual hunt data.
Wood ducks accounted for 30 percent of the harvest, followed by green-winged teal, ring-necked ducks, gadwall, northern shovelers, and blue-winged teal. Detailed reports>>>
“Overall, the season for our waterfowl areas was pretty good, considering the unseasonable weather we had in much of December,” said Dean Harrigal, wildlife biologist with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) “The colder weather in January improved hunting conditions, especially along the coast.”
On Category I Wildlife Management Areas (drawing only), 854 hunters on seven areas harvested 2,481 birds for an average of 2.91 per hunter. Green winged teal, gadwall, northern shovelers, mallards and blue-winged teal were top birds in the bag.
Santee Coastal Reserve in Charleston and Georgetown Counties led in total harvest for all Wildlife Management Areas with 1,057 birds harvested by 290 hunters for an average of 3.64 birds per hunter, followed by Santee Delta Wildlife Management Area in Georgetown County with 2.99 and Broad River Wildlife Management Area in Fairfield County with 2.70.
Top individual hunt units were Murphy Island (4.28 birds per hunters) and The Cape (3.88 birds per hunter) of the Santee Coastal Reserve followed by Santee Delta East with 3.47 and Springfield/The Cut of Bear Island (Colleton County) with an average of 3.35 birds per hunter.
“Green winged teal are a mainstay of our Category I Wildlife Management Areas, especially along the coast,” said Harrigal. “When teal are around we generally have good hunter success.”
Hunt data was collected on six of the 25 Category II Wildlife Management Areas (open to the public on specific days). Hunters reported a harvest of 1,566 birds on these areas. The average for 1,245 hunters was 1.26 birds per gun. Wood ducks accounted for almost 70 percent of the bag followed by ring-necked ducks.
Hickory Top Green Tree Reservoir in Clarendon County had the highest harvest in Category II and second highest harvest overall. Wood ducks accounted for 591 of the 653 birds in the recorded harvest. Other top Category II Wildlife Management Areas were Enoree in Newberry County, Crackerneck in Aiken County and Potato Creek in Clarendon County.
“The Hickory Top Greentree Reservoir is an excellent addition to our Wildlife Management Area program in the upper coastal plain,” said Buddy Baker, DNR Region III wildlife coordinator. “Nearly 375 people used the area during the Saturdays it was open during the season.”
Regular season adult-youth hunts were held on two special adult-youth-only areas and on two Category I areas. The reported harvest was 384 birds by 126 hunters for an average of 3.05. Ring-necked ducks, green-winged teal and wood ducks were the top birds in the bag. Bonneau Ferry WMA in Berkley County and Donnelley WMA in Colleton County were top adult-youth waterfowl hunting areas during the recently completed season.
The DNR sponsored special hunts for youth on Feb. 3 of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Youth Hunting Days. A total of 75 youth harvested 162 birds on the nine Category I and five Category II areas that reported data. Top areas were Donnelley, Bonneau Ferry and Bear Island (Colleton County) Wildlife Management Areas. Top species in the bag was green-winged teal.