Dixon Memorial WMA

To be successful finding deer on this south Georgia swamp, find water, food and spots where hunters are scarce.

Brad Gill | August 31, 2023

Kyler Harris with a nice swamp buck killed on Dixon Memorial WMA.

Deep in the swamps of southeast Georgia lies Dixon Memorial WMA. One of the states largest WMAs at 36,100 acres, the property boasts a range of diverse habitat that includes swamp bottoms, wetlands, palmettos, pines and thickets. The Georgia Forestry commission owns the property, and timber production is its primary purpose. However, the DNR has done a phenomenal job of managing the WMA’s wildlife, and it’s one you should definitely put on your hunting radar.

When GON reached out to David Mixon, WRD Game Management’s Region Supervisor in Brunswick, he had this to say about the property.

“Dixon Memorial was moved to my region a couple of years ago, but I’m impressed with it. It’s a great property, and it is a consistent producer of deer.”

David went on to say that the bear population is also thriving, making Dixon Memorial perhaps the best public hunting destination for bear in the southern part of the state.

“Bear season is shorter in south Georgia, and hunters can’t use dogs  to hunt bears on the property, so they don’t receive as much hunting pressure. Another thing that helps the bear population is the abundance of heavy cover they can disappear into,” David added.

Hogs are abundant on the property, and David says hunters should have no problem finding success hog hunting.

“Go to the water and find the sign, that’s the key to finding a hog. You can bet they’re going to be near a good water source,” said David.

When I asked David about turkeys, he had this to say on the subject.

“There is a good mixture of habitat that is well suited to turkey hunting and a good population of birds. If I lived closer to the property, I’d be hunting it myself.”

Small-game hunters visiting Dixon should do well, especially those hunting rabbits on the property. Lots of early successional habitat gives rabbits the heavy cover they thrive in.

“I don’t have a bunch of data to give on small-game hunting on the property, but I can tell you based on the habitat that small-game hunters should be able to have success on the area,” said David.

Wood ducks are another species that can be found in good numbers on the property, thanks to the many cypress swamps the property harbors. David mentioned that DNR staff maintains and monitors numerous nesting boxes to keep an eye on the population and said that the wood ducks are doing well in Dixon’s wetland areas.

For deer hunters, David recommends hunters get off the beaten path to find success.

“The hunting pressure on Dixon gets spread out pretty good thanks to the shear size of the property, but looking at Dixon on a map can be a little overwhelming,” said David.

David says a good strategy is to find a small area to target on the map and then break it down.

“It’s much easier to find a small area to focus on, and then get out in the woods and take a look at it. Areas with a water source are a good place to start, and finding good food sources are crucial,” said David.

Crabapples, persimmons and oaks that are dropping are preferred food sources of deer on the property, and any food source with water nearby should concentrate deer in the area.

A unique hunting opportunity on Dixon for the more adventurous is to use a kayak to go deep in the swamp to less-pressured areas.

“We’ve got some airboat trails we keep trimmed so we can get back in the swamp to check on wood duck boxes, and hunters willing to put in some extra effort can use these same trails to kayak to some more remote areas that receive very little hunting pressure,” said David.

Hunters wanting to scout out these areas can check around Camp Island Road, Little Turnaround Road and the area west of Highway 177.

After talking to David, I reached out to Mark Williams (not former DNR Commissioner), a long-time hunter on the area, for his take on what Dixon has to offer hunters.

Mark Williams with a gray-colored hog from Dixon Memorial.

“Dixon has a bunch of wild game, and compared to other Wildlife Management Areas, it doesn’t get pressured nearly as hard due to how large the property is. The key to hunting Dixon is that you have to go where the deer are, as opposed to where you want the deer to be,” said Mark.

Simple enough, but this task is not nearly as easy as it seems. Thick tangled woods and dense swamps make access to large portions of the property downright tough, but according to Mark, that’s where you’ll find the deer.

“Long firebreaks and open areas around the properties many food plots and fields offer good visibility for hunters, but the flip side to that is that’s where you will find the most hunting pressure,” said Mark.

Mark said one key area hunters may want to take a look when scouting are the various new clearcuts on the area that have recently been logged. These areas really pull in the deer, but be sure and target the thicker woods adjacent to these areas that won’t receive the hunting pressure that the easily accessible areas will.

During bow season, Mark says food is key and hunters can find stands of hardwood that are dropping in different parts of the WMA. But again, it is crucial to pay close attention for signs of other hunters; tracks, flagging tape, trash, etc.

“A good food source, especially in the early season, to key on is palmetto berries. Other hunters don’t look for them the way they do acorns, and an abundance of palmetto berries near a water source can be an early season gold mine,” said Mark.

Mark also said that though he hasn’t killed a bear on the property yet, they are definitely roaming the woods.

“I’ve seen several bears when scouting and also while driving around Dixon. There’s usually a couple killed on the area each season,” said Mark.

To target bears, Mark says you’ve got to find a good food source that’s gonna keep a bear’s belly full. Palmetto berries and acorns are preferred food sources, and locating these will up your odds of encountering a bear.

Mark also likes to target hogs on Dixon, and he says they stay on the move from one swamp to the next. Hunters wanting a good crack at a hog should use small-game season to get in some good deer scouting while being on the lookout feral hogs.

“My best piece of advice for anyone visiting Dixon is to first familiarize yourself with the property by looking at aerial maps. These will show you the potential food and water sources that hold game. Then get yourself a good pair of waterproof boots and get out and find the deer. They will be where other hunters aren’t,” said Mark.

Mark also says that due to the mosquito population, a Thermacell, or even two, is a must to have when hunting the property.

To connect with Mark with questions, feel free to join his Facebook page, Satilla Outdoors, and shoot him a message. The page is also a great place to meet with other WMA hunters who also hunt Dixon Memorial.

Kyler Harris lives on land adjacent to Dixon Memorial, and during the fall months, he hunts the WMA regularly. When interviewed for this story, his enthusiasm about the property could be felt.

“There’s some really good deer roaming Dixon, I’ve gotten pictures of some deer that were easily in the 130-inch plus range, and that’s a monster buck here in the swamps of south Georgia. That said, they aren’t easy to hunt, and it took me years of failure to figure out what I needed to do to be successful on Dixon,” said Kyler.

I asked Kyler what particular roads and areas of the property would be best for hunters looking for success and he had this to say,

“When you look at the map, don’t think about this road or that road. In our hot south Georgia climate, water is what you’re looking for. Deer don’t just want it, they have to have it,” said Kyler.

Once you find a likely water source, Kyler says it’s time to get out and explore the woods around it. If you can find a food source within 100 yards of it, there will definitely be deer nearby.

“Especially in the super hot months of the early season, deer aren’t going to travel long distances to eat and drink. This holds especially true for bucks. You find food and water close together, and you’re well on the way to filling a tag,” Kyler added.

When both of these elements are located, the third element Kyler looks for is the heaviest cover in the closest proximity to the food and water.

“Deer will often bed down within a few feet of a water source so they don’t have to go far when that thirst hits them, so when your scouting, try to be extra quiet and pay attention to details. I’ll only look at an area once, the next time I go it’s to hunt it,” said Kyler.

Kyler says once you get home and back in front of a map, it’s time to try and put all the pieces of the puzzle together. Things like the direction of a buck’s rub line in relation to the location of food and water can all be good clues as to where a buck is bedding and how to hunt him.

“When you do decide to make your move, it’s crucial to wait on the right wind. The thermals over water sources will carry your scent right to a buck if you have a bad wind. On public land like Dixon, you have to try and do all the little things you can right.”

Kyler said that turkeys can also be found in good numbers on Dixon, but if you want to kill one, you better do it quick.

“The first 14 days of turkey season are about all you’ve got to get it done. After that, they get super call shy and all but shut down,”said Kyler.

Kyler recommends for a better chance at success, try to lay off of the calling and use some other techniques like scratching the leaves or using your hat to simulate the sound of a bird flying down from the roost.

“Find a few good water sources and start scouting them before the start of the season. The turkeys get pressured pretty good, but if you can get to them first, you’ve got a good shot at bagging one,” said Kyler.

With close to 40,000 acres to explore, and a variety of hunting opportunities, it’s easy to see why Dixon Memorial is one of our state’s best managed lands for a multitude of species. There is a nice primitive camping area located adjacent to the main check station for those wanting to spend a weekend hunting or exploring the property.

Dixon Memorial’s Top Bucks

Jim Rader has the No. 3 best-ever buck from Dixon Memorial. He took the deer with a muzzleloader in 2001.

GON’s Georgia Deer Records is an online database with more than 13,000 deer entries. Along with searching for best-ever bucks by county or weapon, you can select best bucks for all the WMAs.

Right now we’ve got six entries from Dixon Memorial WMA that net better than 100 inches. To view the top Dixon Memorial bucks, go to to and search for Dixon Memorial.

If you have a WMA buck you’d like to have scored and be included in GON’s Georgia Deer Records, email a digital photo of the score sheet that includes the signature and certification number of the scorer to [email protected]. Please include a photo of the hunter with the buck.

In regards to Dixon Memorial WMA, we’re looking for photos of the top-two bucks ever killed. If anyone knows the whereabouts of photos for Lorin Clark and Joe Henderson, we’d certainly enjoy posting them so their families can enjoy for generations to come.

If you have a buck that needs scoring, a list of official scorers is at

Become a GON subscriber and enjoy full access to ALL of our content.

New monthly payment option available!


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.