October 13, 2012

Hunting notebook: Firearms deer season starts soon

Submitted by Georgia Department of Natural Resources

— SOCIAL CIRCLE — While archery and primitive weapons season occur first, many hunters anxiously wait until the opening day of firearms season to get into the woods.

That wait is almost over as firearms deer season begins Oct. 20. The season lasts until Jan. 1 in the Northern Zone and until Jan. 15 in the Southern Zone.

“Regulated hunting is the most cost-effective and efficient means of managing the deer herd,” said John W. Bowers, assistant chief of Game Management for the Wildlife Resources Division. “In addition, sportsmen and women provide more than $30 million each year to fund wildlife conservation in the state through license fees and self-imposed excise taxes collected on the purchase of firearms, ammunition, archery equipment and fishing equipment.”

More than 1 million acres of public hunting land is available to hunters in Georgia, including more than 100 state-operated wildlife management areas. In addition to traditional hunts, many special hunts are offered, including ladies-only and adult/child hunts. Dates and locations for these hunts, as well as WMA maps, are available in the 2012-2013 Georgia Hunting Seasons and Regulations guide at gohuntgeorgia.com/hunting/regulations.

During the 2012-2013 firearms deer season, almost 280,000 licensed deer hunters harvested more than 340,000 deer in Georgia.  Through the use of regulated deer hunting, Georgia’s deer herd remains a quality, healthy herd with an estimated statewide population of about 1 million deer.

Hunters may harvest up to 10 antlerless deer and no more than two antlered deer (one of the two antlered deer must have a minimum of four points, one inch or longer, on one side of the antlers).

All deer hunters must wear at least 500 square inches of fluorescent orange above the waist to legally hunt during firearms season except on archery-only areas.

A valid hunting license is required to hunt deer during firearms season, as is a big game license and a deer harvest record. In most cases, a separate WMA license is required to hunt on a WMA. Where can you get a license? Buy it online or find a list of retail license vendors at georgiawildlife.com/recreational-licenses or by phone at (800) 366-2661.

BE SURE TO ACTT: During the most recent hunting season, Georgia reported 36 hunting incidents, 16 of which involved firearms.

With the upcoming opening of firearms deer season, hunters are encouraged to review the “Four Primary Rules of Firearms Safety” before heading to the woods.

“Ultimately, each hunter is responsible for keeping themselves and others safe while pursuing deer this hunting season,” said Walter Lane, hunter development program manager of the Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division. “This includes respecting all firearms safety rules and being absolutely certain of their target and what is in front of it and beyond it.”

The following checklist is covered in all hunter education courses and easily can be remembered with the acronym ACTT:

1.    A — Always treat every firearm as if it were loaded.

2.    C — Control the muzzle of the firearm at all times.

3.    T — Be certain of the Target and what is in front of it and beyond it.

4.    T — Keep your finger outside of the Trigger guard until you are ready to shoot.

For more information on firearms safety, visit gohuntgeorgia.com/hunting/education or contact the WRD Hunter Education office at (770) 761-3010.

NEW PROGRAM: Georgia women interested in the outdoors can develop their hunting, fishing, boating and other outdoor recreation skills through a new program series provided by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center.

Becoming an Outdoors-Woman is a non-profit, educational program offering hands-on workshops to women of all ages and fitness levels. Casual-styled classes enable women to learn about everything from shooting clays to banding birds.

No experience is necessary. Sessions led by outdoors professionals give novices and more experienced participants enough knowledge to pursue their outdoors interests when the workshop is over.

Weekend workshops begin with lunch Friday and end with lunch Sunday. In between, women 18 and older can choose from more than 25 classes such as outdoor photography, small game hunting, fly fishing, hiking, kayaking, outdoor survival skills and rope-assisted tree climbing. Firearms safety and hunter education classes are offered to anyone who has not taken either course.

Jody Rice, the program’s coordinator, said it is designed to encourage women to get outside and enjoy outdoors activities.

“BOW offers women that chance by providing various classes in outdoor skills, and teaches these skills in a fun, non-threatening environment,” said Rice, who is also training and development specialist at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center.

A BOW “basic” program is scheduled for Nov. 2 to 4 at Charlie Elliott. The center is near Mansfield, less than an hour southeast of Atlanta off Interstate-20. Participants will lodge at Charlie Elliott’s beautiful conference center, part of a popular complex that includes a wildlife management and public fishing area.

Other programs are planned throughout the year. Learn more at georgiawildlife.com/BOW or by calling (770) 784-3059.