Georgia Hunting Land For Sale South Carolina Hunting Land For Sale North Carolina Hunting Land For Sale Hunting Land and Recreational Property For Sale

Waterfowl 101

          As Thanksgiving week fades the early season of waterfowl is passed and by the large the majority of duck ‘hunters’ are done for the season. Most waterfowl hunters are fair weather hunters. Which for many is an oxymoron of the sport. Hunting ducks and geese is typically a foul weather pursuit. While there are many blue bird days that many ducks are killed, the winter pattern of grey skies, drizzly rain and overcast skies dominate the landscape. It takes a dedicated hunter to keep pursuing waterfowl when the weather is foul.

As December rolls around, the extended season ensues. This means that for most waterfowl hunters, we are dwindling on the resident ducks and hoping for the migration to coincide with the season. Which is at best a hit or miss proposition. Many years, the anticipation does not meet the migration. And ducks are either passing us by before the season gets underway or more likely, hits just as the season ends. But for sixty days, the pursuit of waterfowl is as addictive as anything man and beast has encountered.

When we speak of hunting waterfowl, we mostly speak of hunting ducks. In South Carolina that means Wood Duck, Mallard, Widgeon, Gadwall, and a few other dabblers and divers. We have plenty of mergansers and coot, but most hunters do not target these. There seem to be a division of what is commonly called ‘small ducks’ and ‘big ducks’. Small ducks are Wood Duck, Green Wing Teal, Widgeon and ‘big ducks’ consist of Mallard, Gadwall, Black duck, Red Head, Pintail, and a few others that are rare to see and even more rare to kill. Early season is dominated by small ducks, and as the season lingers, more and more big ducks move south into our state and begin to flood our reservoirs.

When it comes to hunting ducks as the season moves into December and beyond, it is really a method of scouting and finding the ducks to hunt. Ducks will move from roost, to feeding areas to resting areas, back to feeding and finally to roost. It is always bad karma and conservation to hunt ducks on their roost. Shooting ducks on their roost is a sure fire way to eliminate the resource and force them to move to another part of the state or beyond. The best shooting is at their feeding areas and resting areas.

Locating feeding areas is really a matter of scouting. Puddle ducks prefer shallow areas where they can feed off of the vegetation that grows on and near the bottom. Divers will be in both big water and small water, but usually not too far from the puddle ducks. Rivers, reservoirs and ponds all hold ducks. Usually when you can find a combination of these you are in a good spot.

Most major reservoirs have tributary creeks, beaver ponds and farm ponds close by. Locating these in areas where hunting is allowed and a safe distance from homes is a great place to start. One such place I have hunted for several years. It is a small series of beaver ponds that parallel a major reservoir. This respite close to big water draws and holds ducks every year, the challenge is getting into place without being noticed.

Usually in the mid-season, the use of decoys is far over rated. When waterfowl hunters error, it is usually on the side of far too many decoys. A fair amount of hunters ravel to pother states to hunt ducks, and these ducks are used to seeing large spreads of decoys often in excess of three dozen decoys. In South Carolina, hunters need a lot fewer decoys to get the same results. I seldom use a full dozen decoys on any hunt, and if I do, it is a combination of puddle duck and divers. Normally I will set about six decoys in a crescent shape and two to three others opposite of these with about twenty yards between them. If necessary I will add two to three diver decoys beyond these in a straight line. This will bring the ducks right in front of the waiting guns.

Hunting ducks in December is truly a great passing of time. The shooting can be great, the camaraderie can be excellent and the table fare exquisite.