Georgia – From a Deer Hunter’s POV

Posted: 08/08/2012 in Archery, Hunting, Legal, News, Regulations
Tags: , , ,

This is an ongoing series looking at each state from the point of view of a nonresident hunter trying to find information about deer hunting, the basic explanation is HERE.

Georgia

Is the information easy to find?

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources web site is at the top of the search results, however the Georgia hunting regulations are the SECOND link provided.  While both links will take a first time visitor to the information needed, the top result is the general Department of Natural Resources homepage. It only takes a moment of looking at the page to find the ‘hunting’ link in the top left, but the intent of the search was the hunting regulations page.  (As a side note, the Georgia DNR web site actually crashed while I was researching this piece.)

Grade: C

Website: is it easy to use and understand?

Provided a first time user of the Georgia DNR website takes a moment to look around the front page, the information for a nonresident hunter is relatively easy to find by following the ‘hunting‘ link in the upper left corner.  That link doesn’t provide a shred of information though, just links to more pages that actually contain MORE LINKS to the information needed to plan a hunt.  There is a large link to the Georgia eRegulations web site, which is really the web site that most hunters would want to find instead of the main DNR website.   From the beginning page of the main site the user would have to click a link to ‘hunting,’ click a link to ‘hunting regulations’ click a link to the information needed.  The ‘hunting’ link on the home page does contain a link directly to the regulations page (which contains more links to actual information) but the first impulse would be to just click ‘hunting.’  Once the link to the actual regulations, seasons and license information are located, planning can actually begin. The eRegulations page is highly interactive, the search function is powerful and accurate, and all the information that’s really required is included. If the eRegulations page had been the only page, Georgia hunters would be better served.

Grade: C

Does the state hold a lottery system for non-residents or are over the counter licenses available?

Over the counter licenses are readily available for residents and nonresidents, however there are limited drawings for Wildlife Management Area special hunts, and certain species such as alligator.  For a nonresident, provided the visitor isn’t hunting on private land, the options are to plan a hunt on a Wildlife Management Area during the season for that specific area, or to try for a special drawing, which are also area specific.

Grade: C

How much does it cost to hunt, and is there a short term license available?

The license fee for a resident hunter is $10.00, with a $9.00 big game license required for deer, and a $19.00 Wildlife Management Area license is required if the hunter wants to hunt on any of the management areas.  Nonresident hunting licenses are $100.00, which is actually a hunting and fishing combination license, with a further $195.00 big game permit and $73.00 Wildlife Management Area permit, totaling $388.00.  Nonresidents do have the option to purchase a three day sportsman’s license for $20.00, and a three day big game permit for $90, however the Wildlife Management Area permit is still the full year price of $73.00.  The three day option, at $183.00, is far more affordable, but a five day license for $20.00 more would be much more agreeable.  Nothing I have found so far changes the bag limit, however, which is twelve deer. One buck of any size, one buck with at least four one-inch points on one side, and ten antlerless deer.  It is also important to note that every deer hunter needs a deer harvest record, which is basically a piece of paper with some questions about your antlered deer, and ten blank lines for antlerless deer.  It’s an honor system for recording your deer kills, it doesn’t cost anything, and can be printed with your license during the purchase process.

Grade: B

Are the hunting seasons easy to find and laid out in a logical manner?

Once a visitor to the web site finds the link to Hunting Seasons and Dates, the information is summarized in a one page PDF file.

Grade: A

Is public hunting available, if so, are the rules different? If the rules are different, are they easy to understand?

Georgia has over one million acres of Wildlife Management Areas available for hunting, fishing, and other outdoor recreation.  And every single one has a different set of seasons, some are lottery hunt only, and some have other restrictions. A good selection of maps are provided on the Hunting Maps page, with the option to choose line, topographical, or color infrared PDF files to review or print. The general Wildlife Management Area regulations aren’t the issue with public hunting in Georgia, it’s the specific WMA regulations that can cause heartburn to a first time nonresident hunter.

Feral Hog, Deer, Bear & Turkey

See WMA Q&A. Direct questions regarding a specific WMA to the region office for that WMA. See Contact Info.

After clicking on the ‘WMA Q&A’ link above, the page that follows contains fifteen links embedded throughout the text.  Eight of the fifteen links point back to www.gohuntgeorgia.com, which is the start page for the entire Department of Natural Resources outdoor system.  This is like a game of Chutes and Ladders really, 50% of the choices returns you to the beginning.

The real negative however, is this Q&A:

Q: When can I hunt on a WMA?

A: Each WMA has unique hunting opportunities and regulations. WMAs are typically open for hunting during specific dates and not the entire statewide seasons. You should become familiar with the regulations for a WMA before visiting. In addition, WMAs are open to scouting outside of posted seasons (unless specified otherwise).

This system has some positives and a lot of negatives.  Positives include keeping the roads inside WMAs closed most of the year to prevent overuse, roadside trash and easy access to poachers and generally destructive activities such as off road enthusiasts.  Negatives include not being able to scout an area without a very long hike in some locations, and the fact that hunters have very short opportunities, or lottery only opportunities, to hunt these areas.

Grade: D

Are there major issues in hunting this state as a non-resident?

Despite the confusing multitude of wildlife management area rules, out of state hunters should be able to find a location and a set of dates to hunt Georgia in order to plan a hunt.  Quite a lot of the state is hunter-friendly, but don’t expect to find many private land owners who welcome hunters at the drop of a hat.  Hunting leases are both a cottage industry and a big business in this state, and I’ve yet to find private land that welcomes strangers to hunt.  The Wildlife Management Areas are the best nonresident option other than a guided or semi-guided hunt on one of the big ‘plantation’ hunting properties.

Grade: B

Summary: Final Grade C+

Georgia has a lot of opportunity for out of state hunters, including large tracts of public hunting that range from coastal plains to the mountains.  Choosing a Wildlife Management Area that is open for deer hunting at a time that matches the hunter’s schedule must be the top priority however, unless the hunter is fortunate enough to have an invitation to hunt private property.  Once the specific land and dates are settled, however, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources provides good information in the form of maps, processors and contact information for regional and local wildlife offices.  The license cost is reasonable, and if a short hunt is desired, the cost drops to very friendly indeed.

 Previous states:  AlabamaAlaskaArizonaArkansasCaliforniaColoradoConnecticutDelaware, Florida

 

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