As I stood in the dark swamp, knee deep in water, I could hear the whistling of duck wings as they flew by and landed in flooded timber around me. Looking up, I could see ducks in groups of three to as many as 10 silhouetted against the breaking light of the morning sky.
A few minutes later, as darkness began giving way to daylight, I could see them dropping into an opening in the swamp. Legal shooting time finally arrived, and my host called out “Shoot ’em, boys.”
That started what was the most-intense wing shooting experience I’ve ever had. Scores of wood ducks were flying through an opening in the timber, and some were dropping in, wings set to land in a half-acre opening. The sounds of wood duck squeals filled the air, mixed with the roar of shotgun fire. It seemed like shotgun blasts rang through the swamp for an hour, but it was less than 15 minutes before all four of us had our limit of woodies. That was my first duck hunt, and I’ve never been the same since!
Wood ducks can be found anywhere in the Carolinas where there is secluded water: in wooded areas such as rivers, creeks, ponds, swamps and beaver ponds. They can be taken by hunters walking creeks and jump-shooting, floating rivers or just waiting for them to fly into morning feeding areas. You don’t have to have a boat, calls, decoys or a retriever — although you can use all four. Only a shotgun, some appropriate steel shot shells and a pair of waders are required. Wood ducks are also very good eating, which only adds to their popularity. With a limited amount of gear required and wide distribution over both states, they are truly are the waterfowl for everybody.
Bobby Mead of Moncks Corner, S.C., has access