Wildlife - Waterfowl Hunting and Baiting

Flying ducks

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I hunt ducks or geese over a harvested corn or sorghum field? Yes. if the field was planted, harvested and any post harvest manipulation was in accordance with official recommendations of the Cooperative Extension Service in South Carolina.
  2. Can I harvest part of the corn crop in my pond, leave the rest unharvested, and then flood and legally hunt over it? Yes. Fish and Wildlife Service Regulations allow you to harvest part of a crop in accordance with official recommendations of the Cooperative Extension Service in South Carolina and legally hunt over the field, provided you do not manipulate the remaining unharvested crop.
  3. After a cornfield is combined is it legal to mow the corn stubble prior to flooding the field? Yes. The Cooperative Extension Service in South Carolina has stated that mowing of corn stubble is a normal post harvest agricultural manipulation.
  4. May I mow part of my unharvested cornfield to create open water areas for ducks to land? No. If any grain or other feed has been placed, exposed, deposited, distributed or scattered that could serve as a lure or attraction for waterfowl to, on, or over areas where hunters are attempting to take them, such areas would be considered baited. The area would remain a baited area for ten days following the COMPLETE removal of all such grain or other feed. The mowing of unharvested corn (or any planted agricultural crop) for any purpose is an illegal manipulation of the crop and makes the field baited. Other illegal manipulations of unharvested crops include disking, shredding and burning.
  5. I planted Japanese millet in my duck pond last year. This year I didn’t plant it and I have a “volunteer” stand in the same area, mixed in with the panic grass and other native vegetation. Can I legally mow and burn the millet along with the native vegetation? Yes. You may legally manipulate Japanese millet (and other agricultural millets) that has sprouted voluntarily the second year after planting. You may not manipulate millets the year in which you plant them.
  6. Can I camouflage my duck blind with corn stalks? Yes. It is legal to camouflage your duck blind with corn stalks provided that your use of the corn stalks does not expose, deposit, distribute, or scatter grain.
  7. Can I mow paths through my unharvested corn crop to make it easier to get to the blind? No. Mowing pathways through an unharvested cornfield or any other unharvested planted agricultural crop is considered a manipulation of an unharvested agricultural crop. Any seed or grain scattered as a result would be considered bait. If you do this then the field is considered baited.
  8. If I accidentally knock down corn while going to and from my blind, is the field considered baited? No. Federal regulations allow for the take of waterfowl over unharvested or flooded unharvested agricultural crops where grain is inadvertently scattered solely as a result of a hunter entering or exiting a hunting area, placing decoys, or retrieving downed birds. Caution is warranted in this situation and you should make all possible efforts to minimize contact with crops. The excessive running of boats or riding across unharvested crops to create paths to the blind can result in a baited field. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reserves the right to make the final determination.
  9. Can I turn hogs or cattle into an unharvested crop grown in the field, then flood it and hunt ducks over it? No. It is illegal to hunt waterfowl over crops that have been trampled by livestock or subjected to other manipulations that distribute, scatter or expose grain.
  10. Can I hunt ducks or geese over wildlife food plots? Yes. However, you may not hunt waterfowl over freshly planted food plots where grain or seed has been distributed, scattered or exposed or on food plots where the unharvested crop has been manipulated by mowing or other means.
  11. Can I hunt ducks or geese over a dove field? Yes. Any grain present would have to be the result of a normal agricultural planting, harvesting, post harvest manipulation or normal soil stabilization practice. Any grain present as a result of any manipulation outside of the above mentioned actions would be considered bait and would need to be removed 10 days prior to hunting.
  12. May I use a portion of my waterfowl impoundment as a dove field and mow down some crop for September dove season then flood the remaining unharvested crop later in the fall for duck hunting? To be legal in this scenario, the impoundment would have to pass the 10-day rule for baiting. All of the grain exposed by manipulating the crop for doves would have to be gone at least 10 days before the field could be legally hunted for waterfowl. The land manager should be extremely careful when attempting to manage a waterfowl impoundment for both ducks and doves.
  13. If I am camping, how many ducks may I have in possession in my camp or ice chest? The possession limit for ducks in South Carolina is twice the daily bag limit. This is the number you may have in possession at your camp. You can only possess, have in custody or transport the daily bag limit at or between the place where taken (blind) and either; A) your principal means of land transportation (car) or B) your camp. The possession limit does not negate the hunter’s restriction to shoot only the daily bag limit in any one day. If you break camp, and are traveling back to your car (principal means of land transportation) by ATV or boat, you may transport your possession limit. Any time you leave camp to hunt, birds left at the camp must have a tag attached signed by the hunter, stating the hunter’s address with the date taken and the total number and species.

For questions concerning waterfowl hunting and baiting regulations contact the your regional office listed below:

Region 1 Clemson
Law Enforcement (864) 654-1671, Ext 18
Wildlife Section (864) 654-1671, Ext 24
Region 2 Florence
Law Enforcement (843) 661-4766
Wildlife Section (843) 661-4768
Region 3 Columbia
Law Enforcement (803) 734-4303
Wildlife Section (803) 734-3886
Region 4 Charleston
Law Enforcement (843) 953-9301
Wildlife Section (843) 953-5291

To Report Wildlife Violations call: 1-800-922-5431

This brochure is a summary of regulations from Title 50 Code of Federal Regulations part 20 promulgated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and information provided by the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service. To view complete Federal Regulations go to the following: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/browse/collectionCfr.action?collectionCode=CFR

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