It's surprisingly tough to score a great photograph of a wild animal. Deer, turkeys, ducks, birds of prey, dolphins, fish — any animal that's truly wild won't just sit there while you adjust camera settings and click away.

Worse still, most wild animals are quick-movers who usually only show themselves in low-light situations. Anybody who's played around with photography can attest that the combination of movement and darkness leads to disappointment.

To get a great wildlife shot, you've got to get sneaky. You've got to be a hunter. Stalking, camouflage, blinds, early mornings: The tactics for hunting and photography are the same right up to the moment you either pull the trigger or click the camera's shutter release.

If you've recently lucked out and captured a top-notch wildlife shot, consider submitting it to South Carolina Wildlife's Outdoor Photography Competition.

The contest, now in its 29th year, accepts “advanced” and “amateur” images (entrants decide which they are) of animals, landscapes, plants and activities such as camping, hunting, fishing, hiking and boating.

The deadline for submissions is 5 p.m. Friday, and since entries must be printed, mounted and mailed, you'll have to act fast.

“Last year we received more birds prints than ever before in this contest,” said Tricia Way, photo contest coordinator. “In this year's competition, we'd like to see a variety of other species, not just birds.”

Entering is free, and you can submit up to two mounted prints. All photos must be taken in South Carolina, and images whose content has been digitally altered (beyond standard dodging, dust-spot removal, etc.) will be disqualified.

All entries must be 8x10-inch prints mounted on 11x14 board or foam core. A completed entry form must be included on the back.

Send entries to Tricia Way, SC Wildlife/Classic Photo Contest, P.O. Box 167, Columbia, SC 29202-0167. If using FedEx or UPS, send to Tricia Way, SC Wildlife Photo Contest, 1000 Assembly Street, Room 219, Columbia, SC 29201.

The magazine's photography staff will judge the contest. Winning prints will be displayed at the 2013 Palmetto Sportsmen's Classic March 22-24 at the State Fairgrounds in Columbia.

For contest details and entry forms, go to scwildlife.com/photocontest or call Tricia Way at 803-734-3972 or Joey Frazier at 803-734-3967

Strong duck season

Reports from state waterfowl biologists indicate that South Carolina duck hunters had a good season.

The state's analysis of the 2012-2013 season, which ended last month, showed increased productivity on public hunting lands, with total hunter participation up 41 percent and total harvest up 27 percent from the previous season.

Other findings in the report included:

A total of 2,885 hunters participated in the popular hunts at 16 Wildlife Management Areas, bagging a total of 5,639 birds (an average of 2.0 birds per hunter).

Wood ducks accounted for 38 percent of the total harvest, followed by green-winged teal, gadwall, shoveler and widgeon.

“Overall, the season for our waterfowl areas was excellent, given the rather dry winter we are having,” Dean Harrigal, Waterfowl Program Coordinator with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, reported. “Most asreas were able to flood and attracted good numbers of birds, which provided good hunting opportunities for our sportsmen.”

Hickory Top Greentree Reservoir in Clarendon County had the highest hunter participation and harvest, with 1,101 hunters reporting a harvest of 1,765 birds, the vast majority of them wood ducks.

On Category I Wildlife Management Areas (drawing only), 909 hunters on seven areas harvested 3,140 birds, with an average of 3.5 birds per hunter.

Bear Island WMA in Colleton County had the highest hunter average, with 4.1 birds per hunter, followed by the Santee Coastal Reserve in Charleston and Georgetown Counties with 3.6 birds per hunter, Santee Delta in Georgetown County with 3.4, and Broad River in Fairfield County and Sandy Beach in Berkley County with 2.0 birds per hunter.

“American green winged teal are a mainstay of our Category I Wildlife Management Areas, especially along the coast,” Harrigal said. “When teal are around, we generally have good hunter success.”

Reach Matt Winter, Tideline magazine editor, at 843-937-5568 or matt@tidelinemagazine.com.