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South Carolina Waterfowl Hunting Laws & Regulations

Waterfowl Hunting and Baiting Regulations: What You Need to Know

Waterfowl hunting is subject to specific federal regulations to protect these national resources. As a waterfowl hunter or land manager, it's crucial to understand the rules governing waterfowl hunting, including baiting regulations. Here are the key points you need to be aware of:

Protected Species

  • Waterfowl and migratory birds, including ducks, geese, swans, coots, and cranes, are protected national resources under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Federal Definitions

  • Federal regulations define terms and conditions for waterfowl hunting, and it is the responsibility of hunters and land managers to know and comply with both Federal and State laws.

Crop Manipulation

  • Restrictions: Federal regulations for waterfowl hunting are more restrictive compared to other migratory game birds like doves. While unharvested agricultural crops may be manipulated to attract doves for hunting, manipulation of crops to attract waterfowl creates a baited area and is prohibited.

Natural Vegetation

  • Definition: Natural vegetation includes non-agricultural, native, or naturalized plant species that grow in response to planting or from existing seeds or propagules.
  • Exclusion: Planted millet is not considered natural vegetation due to its use as both an agricultural crop and a species for moist soil management. However, naturally grown millet in subsequent years is considered natural vegetation.

Habitat Management

  • Habitat Management: If you manage wetlands to restore them as habitat for waterfowl and migratory birds, you can manipulate the natural vegetation in these areas to make them suitable for hunting. Common practices include mowing and burning of natural vegetation for habitat management.

Exclusions

  • Agricultural Crops: Under no circumstances can waterfowl be hunted over crops manipulated before a normal harvest.
  • Wildlife Food Plots: Waterfowl hunting over manipulated wildlife food plots is not allowed.
  • Plantings for Soil Stabilization: Hunting over manipulated plantings for soil stabilization is also prohibited.

Shooting Hours

  • Shooting hours for waterfowl hunting are from 1/2 hour before sunrise until sunset, except during early seasons when specific hours may apply.
  • Shooting hours are consistent and uniform statewide for waterfowl hunting.

Legal Shot

  • The possession of lead shot is prohibited for all waterfowl hunting activities throughout the state.
  • Nontoxic shot (such as steel, bismuth, or other Federally approved shot) is required for all waterfowl hunting.

Blind Regulations (SC Code of Laws 50-11-25)

  • It is unlawful to take migratory waterfowl from blinds or positions where the floor level of the blind or position is:

    • More than ten feet above surface level in or around freshwater.
    • More than five feet above the mean high water in or around saltwater.
  • Blinds constructed on public lands or waters must be made from biodegradable materials.

  • Once a blind on public lands or waters is vacated, it becomes available for use by other hunters on a "first come, first served" basis.

Definition of Airboat

  • An "airboat" is defined as a watercraft that is propelled by air pressure generated by a motor mounted on the watercraft above the deck.

Operating Restrictions

  1. It is unlawful for an individual to operate an airboat on the public waters of South Carolina from the freshwater-saltwater dividing line (established by Section 50-17-30) seaward.

  2. It is unlawful to operate an airboat on the following rivers in Georgetown and Horry Counties:

    • Waccamaw River
    • Great Pee Dee River
    • Little Pee Dee River
    • Black River
    • Sampit River During the hours from one hour before legal sunset to one hour after legal sunrise and anytime during the season for hunting waterfowl.
  3. It is unlawful to operate an airboat on the portion of Lake Marion and Santee Swamp west of the I-95 bridge upstream to the confluence of the Congaree and Wateree Rivers during the season for hunting waterfowl.

Exceptions

  • The above regulations do not apply to the operation of airboats by the following entities:
    • Law enforcement agencies
    • Emergency medical services
    • Civil defense authorities
    • Noxious weed control operations
    • Military personnel
    • State and federally approved wildlife banding activities
    • Surveying operations
    • Biological research programs
    • Use on private waters

Federal Migratory Bird Hunting & Conservation Stamp

  • Individuals aged 16 and older must carry an unexpired Federal migratory bird hunting and conservation stamp while hunting.
  • The stamp must be signed in ink across the face before hunting.
  • Alternatively, hunters can purchase a Federal Duck Stamp online as an Electronic Duck Stamp, which is valid for 45 days from the purchase date. After 45 days, hunters must carry their current, signed Federal Duck Stamp while hunting.
  • Additionally, hunters must possess a valid South Carolina Migratory Waterfowl Permit or provide proof of purchase before hunting.

Waterfowl Hunting Restrictions Near Residences on Certain Bodies of Water in South Carolina

Hunting waterfowl is a popular outdoor activity in South Carolina, but there are specific regulations in place to ensure the safety and peace of residents living near bodies of water. Here are the restrictions on waterfowl hunting within certain distances of residences on various bodies of water in the state:

Bear Creek in Lancaster County

  • Distance Restriction: Hunting waterfowl is prohibited within 200 yards of residences along Bear Creek in Lancaster County.

Broadway Lake in Anderson County

  • Distance Restriction: Hunting waterfowl is prohibited within 200 yards of residences around Broadway Lake in Anderson County.

Gills Creek in Lancaster County

  • Distance Restriction: Hunting waterfowl is prohibited within 200 yards of residences along Gills Creek in Lancaster County.

Lake Greenwood

  • Distance Restriction: Hunting waterfowl is prohibited within 200 yards of residences on Lake Greenwood.

Lake Keowee

  • Distance Restriction: Hunting waterfowl is prohibited within 200 yards of residences on Lake Keowee. There are no exceptions to this distance restriction.

Lake Murray

  • Distance Restriction: In Newberry & Saluda Counties, hunting waterfowl is prohibited within 200 yards of residences on Lake Murray.
  • In Lexington & Richland Counties, the distance restriction is 350 yards from residences on Lake Murray.

Lake Wateree

  • Distance Restriction: Hunting waterfowl is prohibited within 200 yards of residences on Lake Wateree.

Lake Marion

  • Distance Restriction: Hunting waterfowl is prohibited within 200 yards of residences on Lake Marion.

Lake Moultrie

  • Distance Restriction: Hunting waterfowl is prohibited within 200 yards of residences on Lake Moultrie.

Lake Wylie

  • Distance Restriction: Hunting waterfowl is prohibited within 200 yards of residences on Lake Wylie.

Murrell's Inlet Creek in Georgetown County

  • Distance Restriction: Hunting waterfowl is prohibited within 100 yards of residences along Murrell's Inlet Creek in Georgetown County.

Dean Swamp in Clarendon County and Santee Cooper Resort in Orangeburg County

  • Distance Restriction: Hunting waterfowl is prohibited within 200 yards of residences on Dean Swamp in Clarendon County and adjacent to Santee Cooper Resort in Orangeburg County.

Public waters in Calhoun County (Congaree and Wateree Rivers to Poplar Creek)

  • Distance Restriction: Hunting waterfowl is prohibited within 200 yards of residences along public waters in Calhoun County from the confluence of the Congaree and Wateree Rivers downstream to Poplar Creek.

The coves near St. Julien Subd. Extension and Cypress Shores Marina

  • Distance Restriction: Hunting waterfowl is prohibited within 200 yards of residences in the coves immediately to the East of St. Julien Subd. Extension and Cypress Shores Marina.

Taw Caw Creek in Clarendon County

  • Restriction: No waterfowl hunting is allowed on Taw Caw Creek in Clarendon County.

Cove near the Indian Bluff Recreation site

  • Restriction: No waterfowl hunting is allowed in the cove immediately to the southeast of the Indian Bluff Recreation site.

Lake Succession

  • Restriction: Lake Succession is closed to waterfowl hunting.
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Disclaimer:

The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.