2019 WMA Bow Special

Last year’s WMA bowhunter & harvest numbers.

Brad Gill | August 29, 2019

Rat Johnson, of Ludowici, was in the stand 30 minutes before shooting light the morning of Oct. 4. He was hunting an area of pine and hardwoods on Townsend WMA in Long County.

“When daylight broke, there was no movement and everything was quiet,” said Rat. “About 15 minutes after legal shooting light, I gave off about two to three grunts.”

According to GON’s Rut Map, the peak breeding period in most of Long County is late October, so some nicely executed grunts could snag the attention of a cruising buck.

“Thirty minutes later after the first couple of grunts, I still didn’t hear any movement. Then I heard the squirrels go to barking from the direction the deer (eventually) came from.”

Two or three minutes after the squirrels started barking, Rat saw a buck headed toward his stand.  

“He then stopped for what felt like five minutes, but it was only for a minute or two,” said Rat. “Then I got adjusted and got ready. He then presented me with a perfect shot on his left side. I turned the arrow loose, and I knew I had just put it in his pumphouse. He didn’t run but 35 yards and crashed. I haven’t been this excited since my first deer.”

Rat’s buck was a 5X6 and a fantastic coastal buck. When you factor in that the deer came from hard-hunted public land, I believe it elevates the trophy level another notch or two.

Rat entered his buck in Week 4 of GON’s Truck-Buck contest, but he didn’t attend either scoring event, likely because he knew Rusty Robbins’ giant Screven County non-typical was entered that same week. However, if Rat gets his buck officially scored at some point, he’ll be No 1 for Townsend WMA on GON’s Triple-Digit WMA Bucks rankings list. 

Although not everyone will kill a big 11-point from the stand this year, hunting scenes like Rat’s will play out day after day on Georgia WMAs. Do you have any idea where you’re going to be bowhunting this fall? 

This year’s GON WMA Bow Special, printed on pages 104-106, might help you figure out where to hunt. In this annual special, we publish last year’s hunter and harvest stats on 85 different tracts of public land, along with a list of the top-25 most successful places for bowhunter success from the previous season. We’ve compiled and printed this information to give bowhunters a head start on where they could spent some air time this year.

Ossabaw Island’s mid October bowhunt was canceled last year due to the impacts of Hurricane Michael, so Sapelo Island’s quota archery hunt ended up as last year’s most successful in the state. Most WMA bowhunting opportunities are sign-in only and don’t require you to enter the quota process. 

Flat Creek PFA (No. 2 in success) is one of those open areas. This 850 acres was open from September to January for bowhunting and drew only 104 hunters, and they killed 24 deer. 

If you bowhunt, you can find some hidden WMA jewels that will be open, like Flat Creek PFA, by referring to the GON WMA Bow Special and studying the new Georgia Hunting Seasons & Regulations booklet. Look for tracts—some of them are small pieces of dirt—that are open outside of the state’s regular archery season. Just a few examples are Bartram Forest (No. 4), Echeconnee Creek (No. 5) and Zahnd (No. 9).

Like most things, success takes some research and work. I say this every year, but I am completely convinced that with the proper work, you can find yourself successful in the WMA woods this fall with your bow. It’s on you now, so get to work!

A Townsend WMA bowhunt produced this big 10-pointer for Rat Johnson.

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