After a fifteen minute ride past fields of sorghum and through wooded pines we arrived at the water. We grabbed our gear and decided on a blind that would hide us from the ducks. We chose one several hundred yards away and started walking towards it.
The sun had just began to peak above the trees on the horizon. It was early, and very cold. It only got colder as we entered the marshland towards our blind. After five minutes of wading through flooded timber waters we arrived.
I hunkered down as the guide, an excellent caller, began to engage the ducks. We waited patiently, taking in the peace and quiet of our surroundings, enjoying the views and sounds and hues that generations before us had also enjoyed. Watching ducks, geese and other birds fly overhead. My mind cleared and I prepared myself for what was ahead.
After fifteen minutes had passed the guide and his calls had the ducks attention. The mallards circled slowly and cautiosly, swirling seven or eight times above our blind and very high, well out of gun range. Then, suddenly, and collectively, the ducks mustered up the courage to approach. It was a sight for sore eyes and an experience more brilliant than I couldve imagined. The mallards lifted their wings, cupping them for their fall, and came down quickly threatening to land on the water directly in front of us. The call had worked. Now all we had to do was execute.
If you would like to enjoy the majesty of a duck hunt, we’ve compiled our five suggestions for spectacular controlled hunting preserves and environments in the Carolinas.
That morning, four fell to our guns. But it was never just about that. It was about the kaleidoscopic sunrise, watching the guide work with precision, enjoying the natural isolation of the duck blind, and taking in nearly 300 years of wingshooting and waterfowl hunting tradition.
Buchanen Shoals [Private]
Recently recognized by Outdoor Magazine as one of the top 16 hunt preserves in the country, Buchanen Shoals is an exclusive sportsmens preserve with first class facilities and too many amenities to list. The property is located on the Great Pee Dee River smack dab in the central flyway of the Carolinas with 5,300 acres and over 7 miles of frontage. In addition to the wild population, Buchanan Shoals raises over 2,000 mallards annually. They also offer dove, turkey, quail, deer, and dove hunts. Quail hunting is available by reservation to the public. For more information, visit www.buchananshoals.com.
Fork Farm and Stables
Tradition and southern culture abound at The Fork Farm and Stables. This sportsmens paradise offers down south hospitality and a world class facility offering sporting clays, upland game hunting, equestrian facilities and more. Located in the middle of the state in Norwood, NC at the confluence of the Pee Dee and Rocky Rivers, The Fork is a short drive from the Queen City and offers substantial duck hunting opportunities. With over 1600 acres of woods, marshes and fields steeped in history, along with its location near two rather large rivers, The Fork attracts all kinds of waterfowl. Along with duck The Fork also offers other hunting opportunities and is known for their quail reintroduction and conservation efforts. For outdoor enthusiasts and competitors from across the globe this is a perfect place to spend a day or weekend wingshooting. For more information, visit www.forkfarmandstables.com.
Allen Brothers Preserve
A little further to the southeast of the Fork is Allen Brothers Hunting Preserve located just east of Lumberton, NC in a small town called Bladenboro.The Allen Brothers Preserve has an amazing reputation among waterfowl hunters, all due its guided trips. While in Bladenboro, guides will put you in the blinds and over decoys so you can enjoy shooting low and fast flying mallards. This is a great place to go for someone new to the sport. For more information, visitwww.allenbrothers.org.
Huckleberry Ridge encompasses over 5,000 acres and offers everything from water fowling to upland game, and bear to deer hunting and everything in between. This time of year, Huckleberry offers two different options for duck hunts. Waterfowl facilities on Hog Island which are located on North Carolinas Inner banks are a mecca for waterfowl including Brant, Tundra Swan, Canadian Geese, Scaup, Redheads, Canvasbacks and sea ducks. They also have acreage along the Tar River with habitats that attract wild inland ducks such as widgeon, black Ducks, etc. For more information, visit www.hrhunting.com.
The Clinton House
Located just South of Spartanburg/Greenville, the Clinton House is a hunting and sporting retreat and lodge that offers a lot of options for its guests, and is specifically catered to corporate retreats, and is a great place to shmooze it up with a client. Become a member of their shooting club, hunt upland game, plan a corporate retreat, or set your sites on something a little larger from their managed deer population. Over the holidays, they are a great destination for waterfowl hunts and their beaver swamps and planted ponds create a honey hole for mallards in Piedmont area of SC. For more information, visit www.clintonhouse.com.
For the Wilderness Hunter…
If you prefer to stay away from the preserves and get out into the wild, out of respect for the many tried and true duck hunters, all we can do is give you these three little hints: Try Hyde County, Pamlico Sound, and the Ace Basin. While hunting always remember to mind the rules, regulations, and seasons (www.ncwildlife.org), pay homage to the ducks you take, and value conservation. To donate time or money to the cause visit Ducks Unlimited at www.ducks.org.