2022 Georgia Deer Season Recap
Reports from GON's Hunt Advisor team.
Deer season isn’t quite over, especially if you hunt in one of the counties with the extended archery-only hunting until Jan. 31. A food plot or feeder where the deer haven’t been pressured is tough to beat for some late-season freezer meat. And if you don’t have a food source to hunt, thick planted pines, cutovers and bottoms that are thick with privet and cane are good options.
It’s time for our GON Hunt Advisors to wrap it up with their final deer season reports. We will hear from our Hunt Advisors again soon during turkey season.
Meanwhile, if you are in the woods a lot and you have an interest in being considered for a Hunt Advisor spot, please email [email protected] and let us know where you hunt.
Cherokee County: Tim Dangar, of Ball Ground, reports, “With things slowing down here in our home county (north Cherokee), we moved to the mountains for the late rut. It’s been a great season at home with a lot of deer being seen and some good prospects for next year. That being said, if you have never hunted the late-season rut in the north Georgia mountains, you are missing out on a good time.
“With no either-sex days for about five years now in most of north Georgia, the herd is on the rebound for sure. The rut happens the first part of December. I was hunting a big creek bottom on the morning of Dec. 7. It was kind of foggy with a cold, light rain. At 7:45 a.m., a deer appeared out of nowhere, y’all know what I’m talking about, you blink and there he is. I knew it was a shooter at first sight, because first sight was only about 15 yards away. This deer had worked some scrapes in the creek bottom where I was hunting. By mountain deer standards, he was a good 8-point.”
“With a good number of does having been seen in the area, that was the drawing card. Now keep in mind, we are talking about Dec. 7. A week later on Dec. 16, my grandson Tyler Goddard was hunting in the same area and got his best deer ever, a really nice 10-point which came in interested in a doe that he had been watching.
“We have been seeing deer every time we go out, which has not always been the case in the mountains. And just like home, we are seeing some good prospects for next year. Still looking forward to getting up in far northeast Georgia where the rut is even later.
“Well, I guess this is a rap till turkey season. Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas, and as always, stay calm and hunt on!”
Madison County: Keith Ingram, of Comer, reports, “Well, for me, one of the strangest deer seasons I have ever experienced is winding down. I’m not sure there was ever a rut on my home grounds, as I never saw the first buck actually chasing a doe. The buck I killed in mid November was trailing a doe and her fawn, but she had no interest in him whatsoever.
“I hunted pretty hard through Thanksgiving and was running cell cameras, and I never saw the does separate or run their fawns off like they normally do. I had several really nice bucks on camera early in the season, but 99% of the pics were at night, and by Thanksgiving, I was getting fewer and fewer pics of them.
“I saw a lot of deer this season, that was not a problem, but my mature bucks for the most part kept themselves low key. All and all it was a good season, it was just different. The main thing is the herd is healthy.
“The most unique thing I witnessed this season was when I had a buck that I’m sure had been snake bitten on the leg. When I first started seeing him, he was really struggling and not using his leg at all, but by late October, he was using it and sparing with other bucks. The last pics I got of him, the wound and the swelling were almost completely healed, and he looked as healthy as a horse. Really makes you appreciate just how tough these animals are.
“I have some time off between Christmas and New Year, and I will probably get in the woods some, but I’m about ready to hear some rabbit races. Hope everyone had a great Christmas, and a safe and Happy New Year.”
Fayette & Meriwether Counties: Jeff Scurry, of Peachtree City, reports, “On the properties where I hunt, 2022 was an overall great season. Lots of deer were seen this season, including the number of fawns. I saw lots of young upcoming bucks in both counties. Mature buck sightings were few, and I believe that is because of the high doe numbers in my areas. Mature bucks didn’t have to travel far out of their home range
“I think predator control had a great impact on the increased deer population on my properties. I was able harvest two mature 4.5-year-old bucks this season, one each from Fayette and Meriwether counties. The rut seemed hot the second week of November. The second rut seemed slower and peaked approximately around Dec. 8. Young bucks were seen sniffing around and pushing some does, but only one mature buck was seen during that time.”
Crisp County: Jodi Manders, of Cordele, reports, “Well, we are about to wrap up another deer season. It seems like it just started.
“We have had a fairly good season here in Crisp County. The deer movement and sightings have been more on the normal side. The rut activity seemed to be right on time for us but maybe a little slack on seeing mature bucks. I can bet we need to continue to let these younger ones grow. If only our neighbors would do the same. Overall it has been good, we were able to fill our freezers and enjoy just being in the woods and watching nature.
“There’s still time left to get out there and fill a spot on your tags. The deer here have returned to their nocturnal state and are not moving much in the daylight. That doesn’t mean you won’t see a good buck or a doe because you never know when one will walk out. One thing is for sure, you won’t get one if you are not in the woods. Our winter plots are still looking good so those will be good spots to hunt the last couple of weeks for sure.
“On another note, we have been seeing a few turkeys the last few weeks, so bring on turkey season! May you all have a great New Year!”
Harris County: Jimmy Harper, of Hamilton, reports, “As the calendar turns from 2022 to 2023 in the deer woods of Harris County, if you’re still looking to fill a buck tag, or maybe to just kill a doe or two to add to your freezer, my suggestion is to hunt primary food sources through the end of the season, especially in the afternoons. The colder it is, and the worse the weather is overall, the more productive those food sources will be, especially if they weren’t heavily pressured earlier in the season. It may be uncomfortable, but it will very likely pay off if you put in the time and make the extra effort.
“With a couple of weeks still remaining in the 2022-2023 deer season in Harris County, it has already been an exceptional one for both my family and for our fellow members of the Flatrock Hunting Club where we do the majority of our hunting. Just in the month of November alone, one of my grandsons took his first deer, my wife killed her first buck, and I harvested a mature buck that was in full rut mode. Additionally, over the course of this season, the members of our hunting club have already combined to kill more mature bucks than in any season since our QDM program was implemented almost a decade ago. Simply put, it has been an outstanding deer season in Harris County!
“I want to close by encouraging my fellow hunters to provide input to the GA DNR during January, 2023 regarding changes to our hunting regulations for the next two seasons—2023-2024 and 2024-2025. The best way to do this is by attending one of the DNR-led public meetings being held in January at various locations around our state. However, if you’re like me and none of these meetings are scheduled anywhere close to your home, you can provide your input online, and it will receive the same consideration (details are in the December, 2022 issue of GON and online at GON.com).
“I plan to make two suggestions to the GA DNR associated with hunting regulations changes, one related to deer hunting, and the other related to turkey hunting. First, I would like to see Georgia follow the lead of several other Southern states—Tennessee, Arkansas, etc. and add a ‘Velvet Weekend’ in late August during which archery deer hunters in our state would be allowed an early buck-only hunting weekend where they would have a much greater opportunity to harvest a quality buck in velvet. This is a goal of more than a few archery deer hunters, and making this small regulations change would allow many Georgia stick-and-string hunters to have significantly better odds of killing a buck in velvet without having to travel out-of-state to do so. Second, with a significant emphasis now being placed on giving wild turkey gobblers the best possible opportunities to breed before they’re killed by turkey hunters, I believe it’s now time to make it illegal to kill jakes in Georgia, with the possible exception of allowing their harvest during the early Youth/Mobility Impaired special weekend hunt. Allowing these juvenile birds to have another year to grow into mature gobblers and breed before potentially being harvested would seem to be the right thing to do for the overall flock, especially with wild turkey numbers in our state still in a continued decline. If you have suggestions of your own for our DNR leaders, by all means participate in this process, because this is the best opportunity for us hunters to be heard!”
Twiggs County: Richie Green, of Jeffersonville, reports, “Well I didn’t kill my fourth buck at Oaky Woods—heck I didn’t even see a deer—but it was good to get back in the woods. The deer here are in lockdown or left town if you talk to any hunters. No rut of any kind to be seen and no deer being killed. I’m sure the 70-degree weather had a lot to do with it. The cameras won’t even give us hope, so it’s just sitting and hoping or go duck hunting. Maybe the second rut will be noticeable. I leave my cameras out till I see the horns starting to drop, and I get a lot of daytime pics of good bucks chasing does way past the close of the season, a lot of good bucks. Maybe they have figured us out.
“I’m looking for next year’s deer which seems a long way off. I think I like to hunt more than I like tagging out. I’ll have to remember that next year. Good luck, see y’all at the Outdoor Blast.”
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