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Beaver Ponds and Ducks


           If there was ever the perfect recipe for small water duck hunting it is found with our friend the beaver. A match made in proverbial heaven. Beaver cause an estimated $22 million dollars of damage in South Carolina annually. There is little doubt this large rodent is a menace. But for the water fowler, the beaver is perhaps his best friend.

When beavers dam creeks they flood large amounts of crop fields and or woods. This provides the perfect habitat for the beaver and for all types of waterfowl. The flooded timber will quickly succumb to the flood waters and the trees will die. This allows for cavity nesting birds to carve out homes in these dead trees. The edges of the flooded timber will provide ample food, and the typically shallow water allows for the perfect recipe for aquatic vegetation to grow and provide quality food for mallards, widgeons, gadwalls, and others. These cavities and surrounding mast producing trees draw wood ducks, like ants to a picnic.

Another benefit to hunting beaver ponds is there is almost always perfect cover for the hunters to hide in and conceal their location for incoming waterfowl. Cattails and sawgrass is a common thread, both reach heights in excess of six feet and can easily hide a hunter.  Access is another good reason to focus on beaver ponds/swamps. Many of these areas are close to roads, and walking in is usually easy provided that you have the permission to be on the land. (Always seek proper permission for land owners prior to hunting beaver ponds)

Many of these birds not only feed here, but also nest here, so the hunting is equally as good in the mornings as in the afternoons. And in many cases mid-day is also a good time to get into some good shooting. If the swamp is large enough, you can actually work your way through different areas of the swamp as the day progresses and get into much more action than if you stay put.

Wood Ducks Swimming by a beaver lodge

       Nesting, food and overall quality habitat makes hunting beaver ponds at the top of my list for waterfowl. But I don’t just limit this to flooded creeks. On many reservoirs, you can find beaver ponds in the head waters of feeder creeks and coves. Lake Greenwood is a great example, the upper reaches of the Reedy River is loaded with beaver ponds at the head of creeks and drainage’s that leak into the lake. Boating to these areas is often some of the best hunting on the lake. As long as you stay in the water and at least 200 yards from a residence you are legal to hunt. Hiding your boat beneath overhanging limbs can bring many birds into shotgun range.

While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend decoys, if you prefer to use them, less is better than more. These beaver ponds usually have tight quarters, so providing adequate landing is key to bringing in birds to your gun. A few wood ducks and a big ole ring neck decoy are perfect. Couple this with some motion decoy and you will limit out in short order.

If you haven’t tried hunting beaver ponds, you are missing a great opportunity. When looking for land to purchase for recreational purposes, having beavers isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if you love waterfowl hunting, having a good beaver pond can produce great hunting opportunities for the whole season. The flooded timber will draw migrating mallards, ring necks, black ducks and pintail. Add to this the local ducks and plenty of woodies and you have all of the makings for a great hunt.

Morning light on beaver pond