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February 10, 2009

Duck hunters finish the season on DNR Waterfowl Management Areas

Duck hunters finished the season on S.C. Department of Natural Resources public hunting lands, with a total harvest of 3,493 birds, an average of 2.0 birds per hunter, down slightly from the 2.22 birds per hunter reported last year. A total of 1734 hunters participated in these popular hunts at the 15 Wildlife Management Areas that recorded individual hunt data.

Wood ducks accounted for 17 percent of the harvest, followed by American green-winged teal, gadwall, ring-necked ducks, Northern shovelers, blue-winged teal and American wigeon.

" Overall, the season for our waterfowl areas was pretty good, considering the weather we had during the season. We started off dry in many areas, followed by an unseasonable warm spell in early December then a real cold spell in mid-January," said Dean Harrigal, Waterfowl Program Coordinator with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR). "Fortunately the colder weather in January improved hunting conditions, especially along the coast."

On Category I Wildlife Management Areas (drawing only), 808 hunters on 7 areas harvested 2,457 birds for an average of 3.0 birds per hunter. American green-winged teal, gadwall, northern shoveler, American widgeon 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 1339 birds harvested by 304 hunters for an average of 4.4 birds per hunter, followed by Bear Island WMA in Colleton County with 3.1 birds per hunter, Sandy Beach 3.0, and Broad River Wildlife Management Area in Fairfield County with 2.2.

"American 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."

Top individual hunt units were Cedar Island (4.5 birds per hunter), The Cape (4.4 birds per hunter) and Murphy Island (4.3 birds per hunters) and of the Santee Coastal Reserve followed by the Springfield/ The Cut (3.5 birds per hunter) and Eastside (3.4 birds per hunter) units of Bear Island.
Hunt data was collected on 6 of the 25 Category II Wildlife Management Areas (open to the public on specific days). Hunters reported a harvest of 632 birds on these areas. The average for 804 hunters was 0.8 birds per hunter. Wood ducks accounted for almost 83 percent of the bag followed by American green-winged teal.

Hickory Top Green Tree Reservoir in Clarendon County had the highest hunter participation and harvest of Category II areas with 271 hunters harvesting 382 birds, nearly all wood ducks.
Regular season adult-youth hunts were held on 3 special adult -youth only areas. The reported harvest was 404 birds by 122 hunters for an average of 3.3 birds per hunter. Ring-necked ducks, green-winged teal and wood ducks were the top birds in the bag. Bonneau Ferry WMA in Berkeley County and Donnelley WMA in Colleton County were top adult-youth waterfowl hunting areas during the recently completed season.

The Department sponsored special hunts for youth during State and Federal Youth Hunting Days on December 6 and January 31. A total of 131 youth harvested 297 birds on the 8 Category I and 2 Category II areas that reported data. Top areas were Donnelley, Bonneau Ferry, Sandy Beach , Santee Coastal, and Bear Island Wildlife Management Areas. Top species in the bag was green-winged teal.

"We were especially pleased that our youth-oriented hunts provided quality waterfowl hunting opportunities for young men and women during the season," Harrigal said.

Detailed reports on the recent waterfowl season>>>

DNR protects and manages South Carolina’s natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state’s natural resources and its people.

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