Firearms Deer Hunting Season Opens Oct. 22

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White-tailed deer are the most popular game animal in Georgia, and since 96 percent of licensed, resident hunters pursue this species using modern firearms, they eagerly are anticipating the upcoming opening day of firearms deer season on Saturday, Oct. 22. Firearms season in the Northern Zone runs through Jan. 1, 2005 and in the Southern Zone, the season runs through Jan. 15, 2005. Last year, 202,467 licensed, resident firearms hunters harvested 224,678 deer, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division (WRD).

“Georgians should remember that hunters are the most effective means of control for the deer herd,” says WRD Assistant Chief of Game Management John Bowers. “In addition, they provide over $4 million each year to support wildlife management in the State through the Wildlife Restoration program. This federal program is self-funded by hunters and shooters through excise taxes collected on the purchase of firearms, ammunition and archery equipment and then apportioned back to the state based on land area and the number of paid hunting license holders.”

Deer hunters can choose from a variety of hunting locations in Georgia. WRD manages more than 90 wildlife management areas (WMAs), encompassing more than one million acres, that provide a variety of hunting options, including archery, primitive weapons, modern firearms, adult-child hunts, ladies-only hunts and hunts for the physically disabled. Sportsmen and women also can hunt on open National Forest land, in accordance with state regulations and county restrictions. WMA regulations apply on WMAs located on National Forest land. Hunters must obtain written permission from the landowner prior to hunting on private land.

All hunters should check the 2005-2006 Georgia Hunting Seasons and Regulations, available at www.gohuntgeorgia.com or from license agents, for any special county regulations, including either-sex days and antler restrictions. Hunters also should note that the season bag limit remains at 10 does and two antlered bucks. Regarding the buck limit, one of the two must have at least four points (one inch or longer) on one side of the antlers. There are no additional antler restrictions except in counties with special antler restrictions. 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 within WMAs or archery-only counties. Deer hunters using modern firearms must possess a valid hunting license, a big game license and a current deer harvest record. If hunting on a WMA, hunters also must possess a WMA license. Hunting licenses are available online at www.gohuntgeorgia.com, at over 1,000 license agents, or by calling 1-888-748-6887.