Wood ducks accounted for 38 percent of the harvest, followed by American green-winged teal, Northern shoveler, Blue-winged teal, Gadwall, and Ring-necked ducks.
"Overall, the season for our waterfowl areas was excellent, with many areas reporting harvests at an all time high in terms of birds harvested per hunter. The significant cold weather in early December pushed birds into the state and they stayed here for the duration of the season." said Dean Harrigal, Waterfowl Program Coordinator with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR). "Birds were pretty well distributed around the state making for good hunter success on our management areas."
Category II Area, Hickory Top Green Tree Reservoir in Clarendon County had the highest hunter participation and harvest of all areas with 880 hunters reporting harvesting 1715 birds, predominately wood ducks.
On Category I Wildlife Management Areas (WMA), drawing only 917 hunters (on 7 areas) harvested 3637 birds with an average of 4.0 birds per hunter. American green-winged teal, Blue-winged teal, Northern shoveler, and Gadwall were top birds in the bag.
Sandy Beach in Berkley County led in average harvest for Category I Areas with an average of 5.1 birds per hunter, followed by Bear Island WMA in Colleton County with 4.4 birds per hunter, Santee Coastal Reserve in Charleston and Georgetown Counties with 4.1 birds per hunter, Santee Delta in Georgetown County with 3.8, and Samworth Wildlife Management Area in Georgetown County with 3.5 birds per hunter. "
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 The Cape of the Santee Coastal Reserve (5.0 birds per hunter), Bear Island East (4.7 birds per hunter), Springfield/ The Cut of Bear Island (4.5 birds per hunter), Santee Delta West (4.2 birds per hunter), and Murphy Island of Santee Coastal Reserve (4.1 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 2368 birds on these areas, the majority coming from Hickory Top Green Tree Reservoir. The average for 1637 hunters was 1.4 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 436 birds by 157 hunters for an average of 2.8 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 6 and February 6. A total of 108 youth harvested 336 birds on the 8 Category I areas that reported data. Top areas were Donnelley, Bonneau Ferry, Sandy Beach, 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.