Days GON By December 2011

Looking back at what appeared in GON 10, 20 and 30 years ago.

GON Staff | December 1, 2011

In 2001, Vernon Prince III shot this Newton County buck that netted 144 5/8 inches and stood as the county bow record for eight years.

Each month we turn back the clock to see what was being reported in the pages of GON, both 20 and 10 years ago. Here’s what was happening.

20 Years Ago: December 1991

256 Dead Hogs At Beaverdam!: Twenty years ago hogs weren’t as common as they are today, but Beaverdam WMA had plenty of these rooters on its 16,000 acres. After the WMA’s archery and two rifle hunts, 256 hogs were reported killed by hunters. The hogs were a big draw for public-land hunters.

“About 90 percent of the hunters who come here are looking for a hog,” said Tim Gilbreath, then area manager. “They can kill a deer at home, they come here looking for a hog.”

In all, 3,738 hunters participated in Beaverdam’s first three hunts, and they tallied a hunter-success rate of 6.8 percent on hogs. Even with the high number of dead hogs, there wasn’t a noticeable decline in the population.

“I’m seeing about as many hogs as I did back in archery season,” Tim said after the three hunts. “The number of hogs we are taking is just keeping a lid on the population.”

Today, Beaverdam WMA has dwindled to 5,500 acres. They still kill some hogs every year but nothing like they did 20 years ago.

QDMA Coming To Georgia: The Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), started in South Carolina, was spreading like wildfire across the country. Some Georgia hunters were beginning to take interest.

“There is a lot of interest in quality management,” said Robert Manning, national chairman of QDMA. “We got out in front, and now we are having to run to keep ahead of the demand.”

Twenty years ago, QDMA was run totally by volunteers. The common thread was the desire to learn more about growing bigger and better deer.

“We are trying to move hunters from short-term thinking about killing the first buck they see to learning about what they can grow if they start managing for quality deer,” said Robert.

The tangible result of participating in a QDMA program was older age-class bucks with bigger antlers.

“You don’t want to bring home all your hunting memories in the back of a pick-up,” said Robert. “A lot of hunters feel like they have to kill a deer to have something to talk about. But if you start letting bucks walk, you are going to see things about deer behavior that you’ve only read about before — things a lot of hunters have never seen.

“Then when you let the big boys grow up and you take a good buck, you’ll really have something to talk about. Quality deer management is an investment in the future.”

WRD biologist Reggie Thackston was quoted in the 1991 article.

“Used to be we didn’t get a call on how to manage for quality deer,” said Reggie. “Now we are beginning to hear from hunt clubs who want to know what they can do to improve the quality of the deer on their property.”

In the article, Macon County and Athens meetings were advertised to educate hunters on this new QDMA organization.

10 Years Ago: December 2001

• Newton County Land Application Open To Hunting: The Covington-Newton County Land Application Facility property has been open to bowhunters for 10 years.

During the first two hunts in November 2001, 54 hunters killed seven bucks and eight does for a hunter-success rate of 27.8 percent. Two Pope & Young bucks were taken on the second hunt.

Vernon Prince III killed a buck that  netted 144 5/8 inches. It stood as the county bow record for eight years, but it’s now the No. 2 bow buck from Newton County. Billy Bouchillon took a deer the same day that netted 127 2/8 inches. It is currently the No. 7 bow buck for the county.

• 560-lb. Gilmer Co. Bear: The state-record bear was killed on Nov. 3, 2001 by Kevin Frazee. Kevin had never seen a bear in the woods until his hunt that morning in Gilmer County.

“Part of the lease is a pasture, and someone keeps some cows on it. At first I thought it might be a cow because it was so big, and I waited for it to come out to make sure it wasn’t,” said Kevin.

Realizing it was a giant bear, Kevin shot, and it only went 15 yards before crashing into a holly bush. The official weight was 560 pounds, giving him state-record bear status. Today, it’s No. 7 on the list of heaviest bears ever killed in Georgia.

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