The Tibwin Managed Wetlands Complex in Charleston County, South Carolina, was historically utilized for cattle and rice cultivation. Owned by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) since 1996, the complex is now part of the Francis Marion National Forest. So, visitors can enjoy year-round hiking, wildlife viewing and seasonal hunting.

Until recently, one thing that you could not participate in was youth waterfowl hunting. That was until Matthew Marbert, USFS resource technician, had an idea.

Marbert manages the impoundments on the property and is also the Ducks Unlimited (DU) South Carolina Youth and Education Chairman. DU has partnered with the USFS on several projects across the southern part of Tibwin, including the installation of several rice trunks and dikes, in addition to two Black Rail projects.

This managed wetland is the closest managed public wetland to the Charleston area.

“I’ve always been passionate about the outdoors,” said Marbert. “It’s important to me to take care of the natural resources we have and help conserve them for the next generation.”

Working on the management area has provided Matthew with that opportunity and more. Working on the property during the COVID-19 shutdowns allowed him to open sections of the property overgrown with vegetation.

“While most people were isolating at home, working from home, my coworkers and I were on a tractor or excavator working on our impoundments, dikes, and other managed wetlands components,” Marbert said. “In doing the work, I started thinking about how we could get more people involved not only in conservation but how to offer the opportunity to youth to become engaged and passionate about conservation and duck hunting.”

Marbert wanted to develop an area that was open to youth hunting but also provided an area where waterfowl could rest without pressure from hunters.

He took his idea of a youth duck hunt to his district ranger, who supported the idea. Seeing this as an opportunity to educate youth and ignite a passion for the outdoors, Marbert and the district ranger opted to model the program on South Carolina Department of Conservation regulations.

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While Marbert spearheaded the event, it was a team effort between USFS, Ducks Unlimited volunteers and community partners. The draw hunt received 65 applications for 13 available spots.

“Thanks to donations, the youth and adult guides were able to hunt and enjoy a pancake breakfast and snacks during the hunt, and everyone left with a DU swag pack,” said South Carolina DU State Chairman Alex Mozingo. “Upon arriving at the site, hunters were given a safety talk. Each pair drew for their hunting blind, and then it was time to hunt. Youth were paired with an experienced hunter, often a parent, in the blind. It was an amazing opportunity for both experienced youth and youth new to waterfowling to come out and hunt birds that had not been pressured, learn about conservation, and how important it is to respect wildlife and provide quality habitat for them.”

After the hunting was over for the morning, the youth and their guides returned to the lodge for a pancake breakfast. During the meal, Marbert shared with the crowd the work DU and USFS have done on the property to enhance wildlife management opportunities and explained how important it is to have quality habitat.

“Talking directly to the youth and their parents about the important work being done out here is exciting,” Marbert said. “Where else can you have a youth duck hunt on one side of a property and endangered species habitat on the other?”

Ongoing project activities on the managed wetland units at Tibwin provide important habitat for migrating waterfowl and wetland-dependent species and wetland benefits such as improved water quality, erosion control, along with recreational opportunities for the public. 

The 2022 event was the first of its kind on the property and was a huge success, with four of the 13 hunters harvesting their first duck. One father was quoted as saying his kid loves video games, but participating in the youth hunt ignited a passion! He said, “You couldn’t slap the grin off my son’s face after the hunt.” The youth waterfowl hunt at Tibwin will continue this year. The youth hunt is the only waterfowl hunt allowed on the property. For more information, contact Matthew Marbert at or Justin Clark at