When you think of duck hunting in North America, south Georgia is probably one of the last places you’d think of to fill a limit of ducks. In fact only 24,000, or about 8 percent, of Georgia’s 300,000 hunters purchased a waterfowl license last year. But, those 24,000 hunters killed an estimated 154,000 ducks consisting of five main
species that made up more than 83 percent of the total tally. Those species were wood ducks (65,000), ring-necked ducks (25,000); mallards (19,000), green-winged teal (10,000) and blue-winged teal (9,000).
So, in fact there is no shortage of ducks in South Georgia, its just that most hunters would rather hunt for one big animal, than a lot of small ones that are harder to hit. But, many duck hunters consider Georgia’s most populous duck, wood ducks, or “woodies” to be too easyto hunt because of their tendencies to fly at first light and the little effort required to kill the daily limit of three. Their habitat of choice is most always a secluded swamp or beaver pond that doesn’t get much boat traffic. For most wood duck hunts you don’t need a boat, a duck blind, decoys, a call or a dog – only a gun and a tree to hide behind.
Other more challenging species of waterfowl at least require a
few dozen decoys and adequate scouting to find take home the limit of
six (only 3 of which can be wood ducks.)
Georgia DNR-WRD State Waterfowl Biologist Greg Balkcom said the most
harvested duck species on Bainbridge’s Lake Seminole is the
ring-necked duck. Known for its association with the common coot,
ring-necked ducks, or “ringers” often raft with coots in large groups.
For this reason, many ring-neck hunters also use coot decoys as a
confidence builder to convince weary ducks that their spot on the
water is a safe place to land. Since ring-necked ducks are a diving
duck, wounded ducks will often dive to the bottom and hold onto
vegetation and drown themselves. Thus, any wounded ring-necks should
be followed up with a quick finishing shot to keep supper from
Lake Seminole’s biggest draw to most waterfowlers is the opportunity
to kill a prized canvasback duck. Balkcom said Lake Seminole is the
number one destination in Georgia for hunters hoping to kill the
prized drake canvasback or “bull can.” Canvasback ducks numbers have
been so low throughout the country, that the limit each year is
generally one per day and some years the species is even off limits
altogether. With numbers of canvasbacks low in the entire country,
many hunters travel from other states for just the opportunity at this
The first chance for waterfowl hunting on Seminole this year will be
early goose season which opens September 4, and lasts through
September 26. But, hunters need not be close to water to successfully
hunt Canada geese, as many can be seen having their share of peanuts
and other mass crops. Befriending farmers who are tired of these geese
pulling up their profits is a great tactic for finding early season
hunting opportunities at these Peach State’s honkers.
Early teal season also begins in September – September 11 through 26.
Teal are a smaller waterfowl that usually begin their yearly
migrations earlier than other species of ducks. Because the water is
still warm enough for alligator activity during early teal season, it
isn’t recommended to use a retriever during this season. Even a large
retriever like a Labrador or golden retriever would be an easy lunch
for Seminole’s many alligators more than 10 feet in length. The daily
limit of teal is 4 of any combination of green- or blue-winged teal.
For full waterfowl season regulations visit the Georgia Department
of Natural Resources Web site at www.gohuntgeorgia.com and click the
hunting tab at the top of the page.