Tired of Hunting the Same Old Public Water
Try Hunting One of the State WMA’s
Yes, it’s that time of year again. It’s time to apply for the South Carolina Wildlife Management Area (WMA) hunts for waterfowl. These hunts are conducted on state run WMA’s that manage specifically for waterfowl. Most of the WMA’s that offer these hunts are found on the coast but there are a few in the midlands and the upstate. Getting drawn for one of these hunts can make your duck season. For those of you who are not familiar with the process I will give you an overview.
The first step in the process is to apply for the hunt. This involves getting up to 4 people together and deciding which WMA or WMA’s you would like to hunt. The application has a place where you can put in for different WMA’s on different dates. You have a 1st option, 2nd option, 3rd option and so on. Once you have decided who is going and where you would like to go you will need to send in the application along with a check for $50 for each applicant. This check will be kept if you are drawn successfully and is used to help pay for the operation costs of the WMA. If you are not successfully drawn you will get a full refund for the amount of the check.
Once you are drawn you will show up at that specific WMA on the date you were drawn. Once there the staff at the WMA will show you where to hunt and many times will drop you off and pick you up. Although this is a draw hunt all rules and regulations apply just as if you were hunting private land. All bag limits are the same as well as all license requirements including both state and federal duck stamps.
Those of you who do not get drawn should not despair. The draw system is set up using a preference point system. This means that for every year you are not drawn you get a preference point. Each point you receive increases your chances of being drawn because those people who have the most points get drawn first. Preference points are zeroed out when you are drawn for a hunt, you skip a year of application or if you try to apply more than once in the same year.
Another important note is that if you are applying with other people the person with the least number of points in the group determines which order you will be drawn in. In other words if you have 3 points and your friend only has 1 point then you will be drawn as if both of you only have 1 point. For this reason it is very important to apply with the same people year after year.
As I mentioned earlier picking the WMA that you want to hunt is important. Each WMA is different in that they all cater to different types of ducks. For example The Cape WMA harvested 104 American Wigeon in 2007 while Samworth WMA only harvested 1. If you would like to harvest a specific type of duck then you need to do a little research about each WMA and look at the harvest summaries. Harvest summaries from previous years can be seen on the DNR website. Also keep in mind while applying that the WMA’s which harvest the most birds are also the most sought after so the likelihood of being drawn for those hunts is lower than being drawn for a hunt in a less desirable area. If you would like to apply for one of these hunts you need to go to the SC Department of Natural Resources website at http://www.dnr.sc.gov. When you reach the home page you need to click on hunting and then on draw licenses. This website will give you all the information you need to apply. If you need further help just contact one of your local DNR offices and they will assist you.