The time is here. Archery season began Sept. 14, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division (WRD).
Last year, 80,000 archery hunters harvested almost 48,000 deer. Statewide, hunters can use archery equipment throughout the entire 2019-2020 deer season.
“A Georgia deer can yield anywhere from 20 to 60 pounds of excellent quality meat, and archery season brings our first crack at stocking up the freezer,” state deer biologist Charlie Killmaster said. “Keep in mind, especially if we don’t get a cold snap, that it is important to get early season deer field dressed as quickly as possible to maintain the integrity and best flavor of venison.”
Public hunting opportunities
Georgia WRD operates more than 100 public wildlife management areas (WMAs). These areas offer hunting dates throughout deer season, and even some specialty deer hunts, including youth, ladies, seniors, and disability and returning veterans license holders. Maps, dates and more info can be found at https://georgiawildlife.com/locations/hunting.
Hunters can find additional opportunity on Voluntary Public Access, or VPA, properties. A USDA grant allows for the arrangement of temporary agreements with private landowners for public hunting opportunities.
State law allows hunters to harvest up to 10 antlerless deer, and no more than two antlered deer (with one of the two antlered deer having a minimum of four points, one inch or longer, on one side of the antlers). Certain metro counties (Bibb, Chatham, Clarke, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, and Rockdale) offer either-sex archery deer hunting through Jan. 31. Additionally, deer of either sex may be taken with archery equipment at any time on private land during the deer season.
To pursue deer in Georgia, hunters must have a valid hunting license, a big game license and a current deer harvest record.
Licenses can be purchased online at www.GoOutdoorsGeorgia.com, by phone at 1-800-366-2661 or at a license agent (list of agents available online).
All deer hunters must report their harvest using Georgia Game Check. Deer can be reported on the Outdoors GA app (which now works whether you have cell service or not), at gooutdoorsgeorgia.com, or by calling 1-800-366-2661.
For more on deer hunting, including finding a game processor, reviewing regulations, viewing maps (either sex day or the rut map), visit https://georgiawildlife.com/deer-info.
Tree stand safety is important
Did you know that more than half of all hunting incidents that occur are due to falls or other safety issues with tree stands? Out of 33 incidents in 2018, 20 were tree stand use related, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.
Following are recommended tips for keeping you safe while utilizing tree stands for hunting:
• When using a non-climbing portable or ladder stand, hunters should securely fasten the stand to the tree and install ladders or steps according to the manufacturer’s directions.
• Hunters should ALWAYS wear a Fall-Arrest System (FAS)/Full Body Harness during ascent and descent, and follow manufacturer’s usage instructions. Be aware that single strap belts and chest harnesses are no longer recommended and should not be used. Failure to use a FAS could result in serious injury or death.
• Hunters should ALWAYS attach their FAS in the manner described by the manufacturer. Failure to do so may result in suspension without the ability to recover into the tree stand. Be aware of the hazards associated with full body harnesses and the fact that prolonged suspension in a harness may also be fatal.
• Have in place a plan for rescue, including the use of cell phones or signal devices that may be easily reached and used while suspended. If rescue personnel cannot be notified, you must have an alternate plan for recovery or escape. If you have to hang suspended for a period of time before help arrives, exercise your legs by pushing against the tree or doing any other form of continuous motion or use your suspension relief device.
• Consider your personal physical condition before going out. If you do not have the ability to recover or escape from a FAS, it is recommended that you hunt only from the ground.
• Hunters should ALWAYS use a haul line to pull their gear and unloaded firearm or bow into their tree stand. Never climb with anything in your hands or on your back. Prior to descending, lower equipment to the ground on the opposite side of the tree.
• Staying awake and alert is important. Hunters should avoid taking medications that cause drowsiness prior to hunting. Also, never use alcohol or drugs before or while hunting.
• Hunters should always inform someone of where they are hunting and what time they expect to return.
For more information on tree stands or hunting-related safety, call 706-557-3355 or visit https://georgiawildlife.com/hunting/huntereducation.