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Georgia Deer Hunting Laws and Regulations

Hunting Regulations for Archers and Primitive Weapons Users

During archery deer season, archers are strictly prohibited from possessing any firearms. Similarly, in the primitive weapons season, hunters may not carry centerfire or rimfire firearms. However, an exception exists for individuals who are lawful weapons carriers as per the definition in O.C.G.A. Section 16-11-125.1. Such lawful weapons carriers must still adhere to the constraints set by O.C.G.A. §§ 16-11-126 and 16-11-127. It's imperative to note that even lawful weapons carriers must comply with federal laws which may override state regulations and prohibit firearm possession in specific circumstances.

Georgia Archery Regulations Overview

Archery-Only Counties

In the state of Georgia, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, and Fulton (north of GA Hwy 92) Counties are designated as archery-only areas, where hunting with bows is permitted in line with the overall statewide limits and additional regulations.

Extended Archery Season Counties

There is an extended archery season applicable for several counties: Baker, Barrow, Bibb, Chatham, Cherokee, Clarke, Clayton, Cobb, Columbia, Decatur, DeKalb, Douglas, Early, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Grady, Gwinnett, Hall, Henry, Miller, Mitchell, Muscogee, Paulding, Richmond, Rockdale, Seminole, and Thomas. They follow the same statewide bag limits and other regulations.

Chattahoochee & Oconee National Forests Regulations

For archers hunting within the Chattahoochee National Forest (CNF) & Oconee National Forest (ONF) during firearms deer season, it is mandatory to conform to the either-sex dates as prescribed for gun hunters. Within the CNF, all lands east of Interstate 75 are off-limits for antlerless deer hunting, with a focus only on antlered bucks. When hunting during the primitive weapon and firearm deer seasons, deer of either sex may be legally hunted with bows, yet specific Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) may have distinct regulations. Archers are also required to wear a minimum of 500 square inches of daylight fluorescent orange during these seasons, unless they are within archery-only counties or WMAs. These measures ensure safety and proper management of the deer populations within the national forests.

Primitive Weapons Regulations in Georgia

Statewide Protocol

Throughout the state of Georgia, except in archery-only counties, hunters are granted the option to use primitive weapons for hunting. This inclusion aims to provide hunters with a broader range of tools and methods for their hunting expeditions.

Legal Equipment

Hunters are permitted to equip their primitive weapons with scopes, enhancing their ability to sight and target game more accurately. Furthermore, air rifles with a caliber of .30 or larger, as well as air bows, are approved for use. This modern consideration expands the traditional notion of primitive weapons, allowing for more sophisticated, yet still categorized as primitive, hunting equipment.

Youth Hunting with Primitive Weapons

Promoting youth engagement in hunting, the state allows individuals under the age of 16 to utilize any legal firearm that qualifies for deer hunting during the designated primitive weapons deer season and Wildlife Management Area (WMA) primitive weapons hunts. This provision aims to encourage young hunters to partake in the tradition of hunting, ensuring the passage of skills and appreciation for the sport to the next generation.

Georgia Deer Season Harvest Limits

Antlerless and Antlered Deer Quotas

During the deer season in Georgia, hunters are subject to specific harvest limits, which are designed to maintain a balanced and sustainable deer population. The season limit allows for the taking of up to 10 antlerless deer, which helps in controlling the deer population's growth and dynamics.

Antlered Deer Criteria

In addition to antlerless deer, hunters are restricted to harvesting no more than 2 antlered deer. Out of these, one must meet certain criteria to be deemed legal: the buck must possess at least 4 points, each being 1 inch or longer, on either one of its antlers. Alternatively, the deer can qualify if it has a minimum outside antler spread of 15 inches. These measurements help ensure that younger bucks are given the opportunity to mature, contributing positively to the genetic diversity and health of the deer herd.

Special County Antler Restrictions

In some counties, there are special restrictions regarding antler size to further manage local deer populations. The details on these exceptions are outlined in the next section, underlining the state's dedication to tailored wildlife management practices.

County-Specific Antler Regulations in Georgia

Spread-Based Regulation

In Dooly and Macon counties, hunters targeting antlered bucks are required to adhere to a specific legal standard. Only those bucks with an outside antler spread of at least 15 inches are considered legal for harvesting. This rule is designed to protect younger bucks and encourage the population of more mature deer within these counties.

Point and Spread-Based Regulation

For the counties of Hancock, Harris, Meriwether, Montgomery, Randolph, Talbot, and Troup, there is a dual regulation in place for antlered bucks. A legal buck in these areas must either display a minimum of 4 points, with each point being at least 1-inch in length on one antler, or present an outside antler spread of 15 inches or more. These requirements are a conservation measure that promotes healthy deer management, ensuring the continuity of robust antlered populations in these regions.

Georgia Deer Harvest Reporting and Handling

Harvest Record and Reporting

To legally hunt deer in Georgia, all hunters must possess a current season Harvest Record. Furthermore, all harvested deer must be logged into the Georgia Game Check system within 24 hours of harvest.

Understanding Antlerless Deer

Within the state’s regulations, an antlerless deer is defined as one without visible antlers protruding above the hairline; this includes young male deer known as "button bucks." Harvesting of antlerless deer is only permissible during designated either-sex or antlerless deer seasons or hunts. In contrast, during "buck-only" seasons or hunts, a deer with visible antlers above the hairline is necessary to classify as a legal harvest to ensure adherence to population management objectives.

Post-Harvest Deer Head Regulations

Georgia law stipulates that the head of a harvested deer must remain intact and not be removed until the deer has been processed or has been taken to a storage or processing facility. This regulation assists in legal enforcement and disease tracking and helps maintain responsible wildlife management practices by ensuring that deer are properly documented and processed post-harvest.

Transporting Deer for Another Hunter in Georgia

When an individual is transporting a deer that was harvested by another hunter, specific written documentation is required. This transport rule mandates the carrier to have detailed written information including:

  • The full name of the hunter who took the deer
  • The hunter’s address
  • An accessible telephone number of the hunter
  • The hunter’s valid hunting license number
  • The Game Check confirmation number associated with the harvested deer

This documentation is crucial for legal transportation of the deer and helps natural resource officers track and manage the deer harvests effectively. It also ensures that a

Deer Handling by Cold-Storage and Processing Facilities in Georgia

Identification Requirements for Stored Deer

When a hunter utilizes the services of a cold-storage or meat processing facility for a whole or field-dressed deer, the deer must be clearly labeled with specific information. Required details include:

  • The name of the hunter who harvested the deer
  • The date of harvest
  • The county where the deer was taken
  • The sex of the harvested deer

This labeling procedure is important for traceability and legal compliance, ensuring proper record-keeping and responsible management of deer populations.

Game Check Confirmation Number

Along with the labeling, hunters are obligated to supply the Game Check confirmation number to the facility upon delivery of the deer. This confirmation number is a critical component of Georgia's deer management system, as it provides authorities with accurate harvest data.

Resources for Hunters

Hunters looking for processing facilities can find a comprehensive list at GoHuntGeorgia.com. This resource streamlines the process of finding a suitable location for the processing and storage of harvested deer, offering convenience and support to hunters in maintaining compliance with Georgia's hunting regulations.

Restrictions on Harvesting Deer in Water Bodies in Georgia

Prohibition of Taking Deer in Water

In the pursuit of maintaining ethical hunting practices and regulations, it is explicitly prohibited in Georgia to hunt or take a deer by any means while the animal is present within bodies of water such as lakes, streams, or ponds. This regulation supports the principles of fair chase and ensures that hunting methods remain sportsmanlike and respect the balance of the ecosystem.

Hunting Near Infrastructure in Georgia

Hunting on Transmission Towers

Georgia law prohibits the use of stands or platforms affixed to transmission towers for the purpose of hunting. Engaging in such activity is considered trespassing and is strictly against the law, as these structures are private property and typically off-limits for public use or hunting activities.

Right-of-Way Hunting Permissions

To legally hunt within or along rights-of-way, which include areas such as power line easements, gas line paths, railroad corridors, and similar strips of land, hunters must first secure written authorization from the property owner. This permission is a legal requirement to ensure that hunters are respectful of private and corporate land boundaries and to avoid conflicts related to land use and hunter access.

Georgia Regulations on Importing Deer Carcasses for CWD Prevention

Importation of Out-of-State Deer

In an effort to prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) within Georgia, hunters who harvest certain species of deer, including white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, moose, caribou, or related species outside of the state are required to adhere to strict guidelines regarding the parts of the carcass they may bring into Georgia:

  1. Boned-Out Meat: Only the meat that has been completely removed from the bones is permitted.
  2. Hides: Deer hides are allowed entry so long as they are without any part of the head still attached.
  3. Antlers and Skull Components: Hunters may bring in antlers, including those still in velvet, as well as skulls or parts of skulls (such as skull plates), teeth, or jawbones, but these must be completely free of soft tissue.
  4. Taxidermy Products: Fully completed taxidermy mounts or products are also allowed into Georgia.

These measures are to minimize the risk of CWD translocation, a deadly neurological disease affecting deer species, assuring the health and sustainability of local wildlife herds.

Chronic Wasting Disease Surveillance and Testing in Georgia

Ongoing CWD Surveillance

The Georgia Wildlife Resources Division has been conducting comprehensive surveillance for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) across the state since 2002. Due to the vigilance of these efforts, CWD has not been detected in the state of Georgia thus far.

CDC Recommendations on Deer Consumption

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not issued any recommendations for mandatory testing of deer before consumption in Georgia, in light of the absence of CWD cases in the state.

Voluntary CWD Testing Procedures

For hunters who choose to have their deer tested for CWD, arrangements can be made by contacting their local Game Management office to schedule an appointment for bringing in the deer head. Important instructions for hunters include:

  • Leaving at least 4 inches of neck attached to the head
  • Storing the deer head in a refrigerated state, avoiding freezing, which is crucial for accurate test results

The cost for the CWD test is set at $40 per individual deer. Hunters seeking further information about CWD testing, surveillance data, and other related topics, are advised to visit Georgia Wildlife's CWD Information Page for the most recent updates and guidance from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Best Practices for Deer Carcass Disposal in Georgia

Minimizing Disease Spread

To help prevent the spread of diseases such as Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), which has not yet been found in Georgia, hunters are encouraged to follow these guidelines regarding the disposal of deer carcasses:

  • Field Dressing Location: Perform the field dressing of deer at the site of the kill, which limits the potential movement of any disease pathogens that may be present.
  • Proper Disposal of Unused Parts: Any parts of the carcass that are not used, such as bones, hides, and trimmings, should be returned to the location where the deer was taken or properly bagged and disposed of in a landfill similar to household waste handling procedures.
  • Avoid Water Bodies and Unauthorized Areas: It is crucial that hunters strictly refrain from discarding carcass parts into any bodies of water such as lakes, streams, or rivers. Similarly, disposal along roadsides or on any property other than where the deer was harvested is prohibited to ensure environmental safety and to respect property rights.

These measures are essential for maintaining the health of the deer herds and preventing the introduction and transmission of diseases within the wildlife populations of Georgia.

Deer Urine Products and Chronic Wasting Disease Precaution in Georgia

Recommended Urine Products for Hunters

In Georgia, hunters are urged to take precautionary measures to avoid the potential spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) through the use of deer urine for hunting and scent masking. It is strongly recommended that:

  • Synthetic Urine Products: Hunters opt for synthetic urine products, which do not carry CWD prions, thereby reducing the risk of disease transmission.
  • Certified Natural Urine Products: If using natural deer urine products, hunters should ensure they choose those accredited with the Responsible Hunting Scent Association’s Deer Protection Program Checkmark. This certification indicates that the product comes from facilities that adhere to stringent protocols designed to minimize the risk of CWD contamination.

By following these guidelines, hunters can contribute to the proactive efforts to manage and prevent the spread of CWD in Georgia's wildlife populations.

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Disclaimer:

The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.