The South Carolina Waterfowl Association & Public Duck Hunters
A common question asked by South Carolina duck hunters: “What is SCWA doing to benefit public duck hunters?” The answer is simple, a great deal. We are committed to working with all SCWA members, groups, and individuals to enhance and ensure the future of public duck hunting.
Waterfowl Habitat Programs
The future of our waterfowl resources depends on quality habitat. SCWA has worked diligently to support the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Wetland Reserve Program, Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, and Conservation Reserve Program. These federal conservation farm programs are restoring and enhancing thousands of acres of waterfowl habitat each year. Recent high commodity prices and tight federal budgets have threatened these programs. SCWA will continue to work with other conservation organizations to promote these programs.
SCWA initiated the formation of the Santee Cooper Lakes Waterfowl and Fisheries Coalition. The Coalition developed a plan to restore fish and waterfowl resources on the Santee Cooper Lakes. The Coalition promoted the development of the 350-acre Hickory Top Waterfowl Management Area. This project has been a big success and is being well managed by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
SCWA initiated a partnership with Santee Cooper, SCDNR, and Ducks Unlimited to enhance fish and waterfowl habitat along with enhancing public waterfowl hunting opportunities on the 580-acre Super Flats Area of Lake Marion. SCWA has committed funding of $15,000 per year for the next three years to help fund the project.
Santee Cooper will annually provide herbicide treatments, by helicopter, on 580 acres of giant cutgrass and giant Salvinia around areas in Lake Marion each August. The treatment is intended to improve public access to fishing, boating, and duck hunting, enhance fish and wildlife habitats and reduce the further spread of giant Salvinia to other areas of the Santee Cooper Lakes system. Giant Salvinia is an invasive plant from Brazil. It was found in the lakes in 2017 and has since rapidly spread from upper Lake Marion to other areas of both Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie. Giant cutgrass has also created dense stands restricting public access in the area known as the ‘Super Flats.’ Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved aquatic herbicides will be used for the application and pose no water-use restrictions in the areas treated.” (Santee Cooper)
SCWA actively supports funding for state and federal waterfowl management areas that provide critical wintering waterfowl habitat along with waterfowl hunting opportunities in state-managed areas. SCWA maintains over 560 acres of wintering waterfowl habitat at its Wildlife Education Center properties. SCWA biologists are continuously working with private and public landowners to enhance breeding, brood-rearing, and wintering waterfowl habitat across South Carolina. SCWA also supports funding for SCDNR waterfowl management areas. We provide expert technical advice to anyone who desires to create a waterfowl habitat. Better habitat means more waterfowl and better hunting for public and private land waterfowl hunters. For more information, visit the waterfowl habitat section of the website.
In 2014, SCWA partnered with the South Carolina Conservation Bank, Delta Waterfowl, Ducks Unlimited, and SCDNR to form the Pintail Partners group. This is the first partnership of its kind. Four wildlife conservation groups are working together to increase youth waterfowl hunting opportunities and to help pass on our waterfowl heritage to the next generation. The first Pintail Partners youth hunt was held on January 31, 2015, at the SCWA Wildlife Education Center and surrounding private duck clubs. The youth hunters were public hunters who were not selected in the state youth waterfowl hunt draw program. In addition, several of the hunters were members of the SCDNR take one make one program. The kids had a great hunt and many of them harvested their first duck. Since 2015, over 300 youth have participated in the program.
The future of waterfowl hunting on public and private lands also depends on developing the next generation of waterfowl hunters and conservationists. SCWA is meeting this challenge through its creation of Camp Woodie. Camp Woodie is recognized as the nation’s leading youth waterfowl conservation education summer camp program. This summer 1,600 youth will attend a one-week summer waterfowl and wildlife conservation camp session at our 1,237acre Wildlife Education Center. SCWA is dedicated to passing on the legacy of our outdoor heritage through the growth of the Camp Woodie Program. For more information, visit the Camp Woodie section of our website.
Wood Duck Production Project
Wood ducks represent up to 50% of the annual harvest of waterfowl each year in South Carolina. In addition, over 64% of the wood ducks hatched in South Carolina that are harvested are taken by South Carolina duck hunters within the state. These figures point to the importance of managing and increasing wood duck numbers in order to improve waterfowl hunting in South Carolina. Since 1987, over 1,200,000 wood ducks have hatched from 24,000 SCWA-installed nesting boxes across South Carolina. SCWA annually maintains over 2,000 nest boxes with additional nest boxes being maintained by landowners and volunteers. SCWA biologists and technicians work with landowners, corporations, and public agencies to install nest boxes and assist with the development of wetland habitats for wood ducks and other waterfowl. Each year SCWA staff and volunteers install 350 nest box units across South Carolina. SCWA and Santee Cooper worked together to replace 1,250 wood duck nest boxes on the Santee Cooper lakes. These nest boxes annually produce over 5,000 wood ducks.
South Carolina Wildlife Partnership
SCWA annually provides $10,000 to SCWP to help generate additional private land hunts for public hunters. SCWA also donates waterfowl hunting opportunities for over 50 public draw hunters. SCWA Chief Executive Officer, David Wielicki and SCWA Board member Buford Mabry are founding board members of SCWP.
SCWA Duck Hunting Programs
This year SCWA will flood 560 acres of grain, timber, and natural food at its Wildlife Education Center near Rimini, SC, next to Lake Marion. In addition, we will release 3,000 mallards at the site. Banding data shows that 47% of SCWA released mallards that are harvested are shot off of release sites providing direct benefit to public duck hunters.
SCWA provides quality waterfowl hunting opportunities to hundreds of youth on an annual basis. SCWA also invites 100 of its volunteer chapter committee members to hunt ducks at the facility as a thank you for their volunteer support. All habitat planting and the entire duck hunting program are funded by the sale of a limited number of duck hunts to individuals and corporations. If you have any questions about any of our programs, please feel free to contact us!