|Wood Duck box from SCDNR after |
several years in the pond
The number one duck in the bag for hunters in South Carolina year after year is the wood duck. Plenty of Lowcountry duck hunters target only wood ducks and a bag of three woodies is the equivalent of a great hunt. A few years back the daily limit per hunter was raised from two to three wood ducks per day. This increase is a result of thriving wood duck populations, and a couple of woodie character traits help to play a role.
First, wood ducks will make use of nesting boxes, while almost all other waterfowl will shun them. Two, wood ducks earn their nickname of ‘summer duck’ because some of their population will stay in the area year round. Setting out wood duck boxes can help wood ducks to acclimate to those areas so then when breeding season arrives in February they are ready to raise more ducklings.
SCDNR biologists know that wood ducks will use natural cavities in hardwood trees in our bottomlands for opportunistic nesting. However, there are fewer hardwoods today due to human activities like clear-cutting of swamps, and development. Now private landowners can assist wood duck populations by applying for a free nesting box to install in suitable areas for nesting.
Applicants must realize beforehand that these same nest boxes require annual maintenance in winter, before nesting season. While this is a chore that can require clearing out wasp nests and possibly getting a little wet, it is the type of outdoor activity that anyone can enjoy, whether they are a hunter or not. My pro tip would be to install a game cam near the opening of the nesting box in order to monitor its use over time.
Only a limited amount of wood duck boxes are produced and available each year, and the deadline to apply is Nov. 1, 2014. For more information visit the Internet at SCDNR.
To view the entire article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.
For past blog entries on wood ducks click on hunting or cooking.