The November season for S.C. waterfowlers can often be the best since early migrants have rested here and settled in to a feeding pattern. But once the Thanksgiving season begins those same birds will feel the pressure associated with steel shot and begin to move around looking for sanctuary.
Bear Island WMA in Colleton County is the state's oldest managed waterfowl area and lies between the Edisto River and the Ashepoo River. Early reports placed large numbers of gadwall and pintail in the area, and Bear Island is always a hot-spot for teal.
Blue-winged teal and Northern Shovelers led the harvest tally On Bear Island with 45 each, followed by 38 gadwall, 30 green-winged teal, 13 mottled ducks, 12 pintails and 11 American widgeon. The three November hunts on Bear Island for a total of 33 hunters actually put them ahead of the state average at 4.8 ducks per man.
The Santee Coastal Reserve Unit WMA saw action on both Cedar Island and Murphy Island and at The Cape. Green-winged teal led the harvest at 54, followed by American widgeon at 41, Northern shoveler ducks at 39, and gadwall at 31. A smattering of Northern pintail, redheads and black ducks
Wood ducks came in droves at the Category 1 WMA's like Crackerneck, Enoree, Hickory Top and Lake Cunningham producing a whopping 296 woodies. A few ring-necked ducks, green-winged teal and other ducks were found on these WMA's. A youth hunt on the Bonneau Ferry WMA yielded 21 wood ducks, 14 green-winged teal and two Canadian geese.
The second section of duck season will open on December 11 and run until January 30. The lull between seasons is known as the split and is an excellent time to scout for migratory waterfowl and to make hunting plans to be where the ducks are for the remainder of the 2010 – 2011 season.