2023 WMA Bow Special

Last year’s WMA bowhunter & harvest numbers.

Brad Gill | September 1, 2023

Flat Creek PFA in Houston County gave up this stellar Pope & Young bow buck last season. The hunter was Zachary Hartzog, and the buck scored 154 inches and was the overall No. 3 best typical bow-kill taken last season.

We’ll get right to the pink elephant in this years’s GON’s WMA Bow Special. I can’t say for certain because I wasn’t a yellow fly in the Spanish moss, but it’s highly unlikely that five bowhunters took 23 deer over the course of archery season on Sapelo Island WMA last year, giving it what’s currently in the books as a 460% hunter-success rate.

“Only five hunters officially signed in,” said Blaine Tyler, Sapelo Island WMA’s area manager. “It’s important to acknowledge that the total number of hunters is likely higher, and the percentage rate becomes skewed due to hunters not signing in.”

There you have it. Hunters not signing in, something they are legally required to do when hunting deer on a WMA. Guys, sign in before you go. You’ll avoid a possible ticket and we’ll get better data to share with the GON Community.

While we’re parked, it’s worth a mention that Sapelo Island is an incredible place to bowhunt and does offer some very high hunter-success odds. The archery season in 2021 saw a 33.3% hunter-success rate, while the 2020 season had 92.6% of hunters scoring on venison. In addition, more bowhunting opportunities are opening up for the 2022 season.

For the first time ever, this season will host non-quota archery hunting for the entire archery season on the South End of the island. So, if you have a stick and string or a crossbow, hunting from Sept. 9 to Jan. 14 is available on a portion of the island where no gun hunting will take place. Blaine says archery hunters hunting on the South End of the island can stay in a private campground, or they may take advantage of houses or trailers that are for rent. A call to the Visitor Information Center at 912.437.3224 can provide details on those rentals.

“You can stay at the campground for like $10,” Blaine said.

Unlike Sapelo’s quota hunts, no transportation is provided. Hunters can ride regular bikes or e-bikes.

Moving onshore, it’s not just Sapelo and Ossabaw—which did see 66.7% of bowhunters finding success on their quota hunt—that offer good odds at public-land bowhunting. Included in this article are last year’s bowhunting stats from Georgia WMAs, PFAs, State Parks and VPAs. It’s impressive the number of places someone can take a bow or crossbow and get after a deer.

With more than 130 WMA choices, it can be overwhelming on where to try bowhunting this month. So, GON’s WMA Bow Special is designed to help you drill down areas to make your bowhunting choices a little bit easier.

This year we’re able to publish 2022 stats on 127 different pieces of public land, along with a list of the top-25 most successful places for bowhunter success from last year.

You may notice from the charts that hunter-success rates and rankings can fluctuate from year to year, likely due to some areas receiving lighter pressure and just a few deer can jack up, or down, the success rates. Some areas we don’t get information on one year and the next we do, so just study closely. Notice on the “Top 25 WMAs For Bowhunting” chart that 13 of the 25 didn’t even receive a rating during the 2021 season. Just a lot to consider as you make plans this bow season.

In addition to the GON WMA Bow Special, take a look at the new Georgia Hunting Seasons & Regulations booklet. Consider looking for tracts—some of them are small pieces of dirt—that are open outside of the state’s regular archery season. With a little work, you can find yourself successful in the WMA woods this fall with your bow.


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