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February 17, 2010

Duck hunters finish the season on DNR Waterfowl Management Areas

Duck hunters finished the season on S.C. Department of Natural Resources public hunting lands, with a total harvest of 3,643 birds, an average of 2.0 birds per hunter, identical to the per hunter average reported last year. A total of 1,841 hunters participated in these popular hunts at the 16 Wildlife Management Areas that recorded individual hunt data.

Check detailed reports of the recent waterfowl season.
Wood ducks accounted for 19 percent of the harvest, followed by Blue-winged teal, American green-winged teal, Northern shoveler, Gadwall, and Ring-necked ducks.
"Overall, the season for our waterfowl areas was pretty good, considering the wild weather we had during the season. We had over 10 inches of rain in early December, followed by the real cold spell in early January," said Dean Harrigal, Waterfowl Program Coordinator with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) "Many wetlands experienced excessive flooding followed by periods of freeze up. Fortunately the weather settled a bit in mid- January and hunting conditions improved in most areas of the state."
On Category I Wildlife Management Areas (drawing only), 894 hunters on 7 areas harvested 2,643 birds, for an average of 3.0 birds per hunter.  Blue-winged teal, American green-winged teal, Northern shoveler, and Gadwall were top birds in the bag.
Santee Coastal Reserve in Charleston and Georgetown Counties led in total harvest for all Wildlife Management Areas with 1,498 birds harvested by 338 hunters for an average of 3.5 birds per hunter. Bear Island WMA in Colleton County followed with 3.1 birds per hunter, Santee Delta in Georgetown County with 3.0, and Broad River Wildlife Management Area in Fairfield County with 2.0 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 Santee Delta East (3.9 birds per hunter), Murphy Island (3.7 birds per hunter) and The Cape  unit  of the Santee Coastal Reserve and Springfield/ The Cut unit of Bear Island (3.6 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 668 birds on these areas. The average for 816 hunters was 0.8 birds per hunter. Wood ducks accounted for almost 78 percent of the bag.
Hickory Top Green Tree Reservoir in Clarendon County had the highest hunter participation and harvest of Category II areas with 291 hunters harvesting 399 birds, predominately wood ducks.
Regular season adult-youth hunts were held on 3 special adult -youth only areas. The reported harvest was 332 birds by 131 hunters for an average of 2.5 birds per hunter. Ring-necked ducks and wood ducks 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 98 youth harvested 278 birds on the 8 Category I areas that reported data.  Top areas were Donnelley, Bonneau Ferry, Sandy Beach, Santee Coastal, and Bear Island Wildlife Management Areas. Top species in the bag was green-winged teal.
"We were especially pleased that our youth-oriented hunts provided quality waterfowl hunting opportunities for young men and women during the season," Harrigal said.

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