Duck hunters finished the season on S.C. Department of Natural Resources public hunting lands, with a totalreported harvest of 5639 birds, an average of 2.0 birds per hunter. A total of 2885 hunters participated in these popular hunts at the 16 Wildlife Management Areas that recorded individual hunt data. Total hunter participation and total harvest were up 41% and 27% respectively from last year. Timely rains in the late fall allowed for the flooding of several management areas that were dry last year including Hickory Top Greentree Reservoir and Sandy Beach.
Wood ducks accounted for 38 percent of the total harvest, followed by American green-winged teal, Gadwall Northern shoveler, and American widgeon.
Overall the season for our waterfowl areas was excellent, given the rather dry winter we are having,” said Dean Harrigal, Waterfowl Program Coordinator with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “Most areas were able to flood and attracted good numbers of birds which provided good hunting opportunities for our sportsmen.”
Hickory Top Greentree Reservoir in Clarendon County had the highest hunter participation and harvest with 1101 hunters reporting a harvest of 1765 birds, the vast majority of them wood ducks.
On Category I Wildlife Management Areas (drawing only), 909 hunters (on 7 areas) harvested 3140 birds with an average of 3.5 birds per hunter. American green-winged teal, Northern shoveler, Gadwall, and American widgeon were top birds in the bag.
Bear Island WMA in Colleton County had the highest hunter average with 4.1 birds per hunter, followed by the Santee Coastal Reserve in Charleston and Georgetown Counties with 3.6 birds per hunter, Santee Delta in Georgetown County with 3.4, and Broad River in Fairfield County and Sandy Beach in Berkley County with 2.0 birds per hunter, respectively.
“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 Bear Island East (4.7 birds per hunter) ,Springfield/ The Cut of Bear Island (4.3 birds per hunter), The Cape of the Santee Coastal Reserve (4.4 birds per hunter) , Santee Delta West (3.6 birds per hunter) and Murphy Island of Santee Coastal Reserve (3.5 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 2137 birds on these areas, the vast majority coming from Hickory Top Greentree Reservoir. The average for 1837 hunters was 1.2 birds per hunter. Wood ducks accounted for over 89 percent of the bag.
Regular season adult-youth hunts were held on 3 special adult -youth only areas. The reported harvest was 362 birds by 139 hunters for an average of 2.6 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.
The Department sponsored special hunts for youth during State and Federal Youth Hunting Days on December 1 and February 2. A total of 142 youth harvested 278 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.
Logo courtesy South Carolina Department of Natural Resources