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** Archived Article - please check for current information. **

February 14, 2012

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 4080 birds, an average of 2.4 birds per hunter, the same average reported last year. A total of 1718 hunters participated in these popular hunts at the 15 Wildlife Management Areas that recorded individual hunt data. Total hunter participation and total harvest was down from last year as several management areas lacked water due to the ongoing drought. Hickory Top Greentree Reservoir and Sandy Beach on the Santee Cooper Lakes were dramatically affected. 

American green-winged teal accounted for 20 percent of the harvest, followed by Northern shoveler, Gadwall, wood ducks  and American widgeon.

"Overall, the season for our waterfowl areas was excellent, given the warm dry winter we have been having," said Dean Harrigal, Waterfowl Program Coordinator with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR). "Most areas that were able to flood attracted good numbers of birds and provided good hunting opportunities for our sportsmen." 

Santee Coastal Reserve in Charleston and Georgetown Counties had the highest hunter participation and harvest of all areas with 360 hunters reporting harvesting 1483 birds, predominately American green-winged teal.

On Category I Wildlife Management Areas (drawing only), 903 hunters (on 6 areas) harvested 3321 birds with an average of 3.7 birds per hunter. American green-winged teal, Northern shoveler, Gadwall, and American widgeon were top birds in the bag.

Santee Coastal Reserve in Charleston and Georgetown Counties had the highest hunter average with 4.1 birds per hunter, followed by Bear Island WMA in Colleton County with 3.9 birds per hunter, Santee Delta in Georgetown County with 3.6, and  Broad River in Fairfield County with 2.9 birds per hunter.

"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 Springfield/ The Cut of Bear Island (4.6 birds per hunter) Murphy Island of Santee Coastal Reserve (4.5 birds per hunter), The Cape of the Santee Coastal Reserve (4.4 birds per hunter), Bear Island East (4.4 birds per hunter), and Santee Delta  West  (4.2 birds per hunter).

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 364 birds on these areas, the majority coming from Enoree Waterfowl Area. The average for 657 hunters was 0.6 birds per hunter. Wood ducks accounted for over 63 percent of the bag. The low water conditions on many Category II areas reduced the number of wintering birds and hunter participation, especially on Hickory Top Greentree Reservoir.

Regular season adult-youth hunts were held on 3 special adult -youth only areas. The reported harvest was 395 birds by 158 hunters for an average of 2.5 birds per hunter. Wood ducks, Ring-necked ducks, and American green-winged teal were the top birds in the bag. Bonneau Ferry WMA in Berkeley County was the  top adult-youth waterfowl hunting area during the recently completed season.

DNR sponsored special hunts for youth during State and Federal Youth Hunting Days on Dec. 3 and Feb. 4. A total of 107 youth harvested 295 birds on the 6 Category I areas that reported data. Top areas were Santee Coastal, Bear Island and Santee Delta Wildlife Management Areas. "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>>>

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