If you live in upstate South Carolina, it’s often difficult to hunt waterfowl on public land simply because there’s not much of it to go around. However, if you can locate good water access, duck hunting in South Carolina is about as good as it gets anywhere.
You’ll have a lot of competition, as well, since duck hunting in South Carolina is popular amongst year-round hunters who engage in every kind of hunting season there is. While wood ducks are the most common in South Carolina, you may luck into black ducks, gadwalls, mallards, ringnecks, and green-winged teal.
Is South Carolina Good for Duck Hunting
South Carolina is excellent for duck hunting. The only problem with South Carolina is the same thing many other states have to deal with—viable hunting grounds. This is especially true in the northern parts of the state, as mentioned above.
On public waters in South Carolina, there are little to no restrictions on waterfowl hunting. There are always wildlife management areas available for hunters, but the rules there are far more restrictive.
Public water hunting is ideal, and it’s something that’s quickly fading away for hunters enthusiastic about going after waterfowl. Notice we use the word “waterfowl,” because it’s not just duck hunters who are having more difficulty finding good public waterways to hunt.
Duck Hunting Season
Duck hunting season in South Carolina is divided into three categories. The first—which is the Early Teal category—starts in early September and runs just past mid-September. This includes both Blue and Green-Winged Teal.
The second part of the season, which includes most of the ducks found in South Carolina, begins in mid-November and runs for about a week. The third part runs from the second week in December through the end of January the following year.
The third portion of the season includes American Coots. According to South Carolina’s rules on migratory bird seasons, there is no open season for Harlequin Ducks. Like most states, the start and end dates for duck season may change from year to year.
Where to Hunt
There are guided duck hunts in South Carolina, along with wildlife management areas as well. The best place to hunt ducks is on public land, wherever there is water. Water is the primary attractant for migratory ducks, and if you’re on the water during the fall hunting seasons, you’re bound to have a few ducks in your sights.
- Santee Coastal Reserve Wildlife Management Area
- Broad River Wildlife Management Area
- Santee Delta Wildlife Management Area
- Bear Island Wildlife Management Area
These are considered to be prime spots to duck hunt when the season rolls around unless you have your own land with water access or prefer to hunt public land with water access. Of the four, Bear Island is one of the most popular for mottled duck, gadwalls, and both blue and green-winged teal.
Broad River is consistently ranked as one of the top five duck hunting spots in the state’s WMAs while the Santee Delta is known for swarms of green-winged teal. Duck hunters average three and a half ducks per hunt at the Santee Coastal Reserve.
What Ducks can you Shoot
You can only shoot certain ducks during the short season listed for them above. South Carolina offers an early hunting season for teal and a later, but much larger one for American Coots.
During the second part of the season, most ducks are open game, except the early teal and American coots. Keep in mind, the season dates are subject to change each year, and South Carolina may put additional restrictions on some.
South Carolina breaks these up, as well, according to the portion of the season in which you can hunt them.
- Early Teal – 6 per day
- Ducks – 6 per day but no more than three wood ducks, no more than 2 mallards, redheads, scaup, and canvasback, and no more than one of the remaining species.
- American Coots – 15 total
South Carolina duck season is fairly popular, especially in specific areas. Though the public land options for many hunters are drying up as the decades pass, there are still plenty of opportunities in several Wildlife Management Areas.
If you happen to own your own property, and it has water access, you’re really lucky. If you can find a friend with private land and water access, you may want to offer them a deal to hunt on their land.
However, even if you are on private property, you still have to maintain a hunting license and hunt duck—and any other waterfowl—during their specific season only.
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