Doe Days Jump For Most Counties In WRD Proposed Hunting Regs

If approved, it will be a doe-day every day of deer season for all but 13 mountain counties.

Brad Gill | April 3, 2023

Georgia’s Wildlife Resources Division was already looking to bring back more antlerless hunting, but the hunting regulations comment period spurred them to move early on bringing back more antlerless hunting opportunity. Either-sex harvest is allowed statewide with archery equipment during open dates.

One of WRD’s biggest take aways from January’s public meetings to determine hunting regulations for the next two hunting seasons appeared to be that hunters wanted more opportunity to harvest does. As a result, a large majority of hunters could see an earlier return of doe days that would begin on the opening day of the next two firearms seasons—Oct. 21, 2023 and Oct. 19, 2024—and last throughout the entire rifle seasons.

“During the January public input period, we received more than 200 comments from hunters, farmers and other concerned citizens in support of increasing deer harvest. That was nearly half of the total comments we received,” said Tina Johannsen, WRD Game Management’s assistant chief.

WRD was already looking to bring back more antlerless hunting, but the hunting regulations comment period spurred them to move early on bringing back more antlerless hunting opportunity.

“This fall hunting season will be the last deer season before we begin our stakeholder-driven process to revise the 10-year Strategic Management Plan for Deer, and we’d originally planned to adjust doe days where needed as part of the new plan process,” said Tina. “Although the current plan wraps up in 2024, many counties have already met or exceeded the population goals established 10 years ago. With the exception of counties in far northwest Georgia, biologically our deer herd can support additional doe harvest.

“Given the circumstances, we changed course to better serve hunters and landowners by making the doe days changes now instead of in 2025.”

WRD’s deer population data appears to mirror what GON’s Rate Your Season survey has shown over the last 10 years. According to GON’s annual survey, only 6.8% of hunters rated their season as “Excellent” in 2012. Since that year, we’ve seen a steady uptick in hunters who have rated their seasons as Excellent. During the 2022-23 season, a record-setting 25.1% of hunters said their hunting was Excellent.

A decade ago, deer populations were lower than they currently are going into the 2023-24 season. That, along with a help cry from hunters, is what led WRD to lowering the number of days when many hunters in those concerned areas could harvest antlerless deer.

“The number of doe days has a much bigger impact on total harvest than bag limit does—that’s why when the goal was to increase the population for many counties, we had to take away doe opportunity, especially on the days that normally have the highest doe harvest (opening weekend of rifle season, for example),” said Tina. “Now that we are positioned to stabilize or increase many of those same counties, restoring some or all of their doe days is the tool of choice. We will always need to tweak doe opportunity in most of the state because deer management, as most hunters can attest, is not a precise science. It requires us to annually examine data and public desires, then adjust regulations as needed. Fortunately, Georgia has a generous season that allows land managers to control how much and when they harvest deer to meet their objectives.”


Summary Of Other Proposed Hunting Regulation Changes 

• Allow a drawn hunter on a quota hunt to bring along a non-hunting companion if they need help getting gear in and out of the woods and/or getting big game out of the field.

• Add 100 gator quota tags that would be distributed across alligator hunting zones proportionally (except zones 1A and 9A).

• Adds cooperating processors and taxidermists as additional locations for Northern Zone bear hunters to get bears tagged.

• Add one additional day of central Georgia bear hunting opportunity if less than six females are killed on the first day.

• Requires Southern Zone bear hunters to tag their harvest within 24 hours of their harvest.

• Add Richmond County to list of counties with archery season until Jan 31.

• Make first two weeks of archery season buck-only, extend archery to Jan 31 for the following counties: Baker, Decatur, Early, Grady, Miller, Mitchell, Seminole and Thomas. These counties would also have firearms and dog-deer hunting closing dates of Jan. 15 each year.

Full listing with additional information and WMA proposed changes found on WRD website.


Comment On Proposed Hunting Regulations

Hunters are asked to comment on the hunting regulations proposals and have that opportunity in several ways before the April 30, 2023 deadline:

Virtual and In-Person Scheduled Meetings: Members of the general public will have an opportunity to comment on these proposed regulations at three public hearings scheduled at 7 p.m. each night.

• April 11: Herty Building, Georgia Forestry Commission, 4983 Jacksonville Hwy, Waycross, GA 31503.

• April 12: UGA Extension Office, 440 Hancock St., Madison, GA 30650.

• April 13: Rabun County Health Department, 184 S Main St., Clayton, GA 30525.

• April 17: Additionally, an online public meeting will be held.

• Alternative Comment Submission Methods: Those unable to attend the hearings may submit comments on these proposed regulations electronically by email ([email protected]), by telephone 706.557.3350 or by submitting written statements, before close of business on April 30, 2023. Written statements should be mailed to the attention of Dr. Tina Johannsen at: Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division Game Management Section 2067 U.S. Highway 278, S.E. Social Circle, Georgia 30025.

After the April 30 deadline, a package will go to the DNR Board for final approval.

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  1. ron owens on April 29, 2023 at 6:57 pm

    I think a hunter should not be able to harvest 10 or 12 per season. 1 buck and maybe 2 does should be enough meat for most families. Hunters that kill more are killing for the sake of killing. State should reduce season limits. Populations of deer would increase in a few years. I live in an area that has seen a decline in population last 3 years.
    Just my thoughts

  2. C Lowe on April 6, 2023 at 8:56 pm

    Georgias deer season is ridiculously long bow season starts in September and goes till January 31 in some counties January 10 or there about in most counties. Leaves very little time for small game hunters. I understand that deer hunters have all the say so but I’ve hunted in several other states that have way shorter seasons and it’s a much bigger deal than our current drug out five month long deer season.

  3. Chris Everett on April 6, 2023 at 2:46 pm

    DNR said that deer numbers were lower ten years ago than now is BS. I have observed on the properties I hunt that numbers have declined and only four or five deer harvested each year usually two bucks and two does because of lack of numbers. I think this proposal is driven by other interests

  4. smokeeater465 on April 6, 2023 at 12:48 pm

    So, the numbers say that when doe days were limited hunters reported “excellent” seasons. Prior to that the data shows, across the board, hunters in Ga did not have an “excellent” season. They fixed it by limiting the doe days, now when it gets better for a few years they want to go back to old system. The old system which proved through the DNR data that an increased number of doe days made it subsequently worse for Ga hunters. With all that being said, this is a terrible idea. Crawford, Lamar, Butts, and Monroe counties have FINALLY had an increase in the herds. These counties are inundated with hunting clubs solely operated by out of state (Florida) hunters that come in for the first few weeks of rifle season and lay waste to the populations of deer. Nothing against out of state hunters, they spend their money to hunt here which is great, but killing 80+ deer on 750 acres in a week is pretty extreme. Bad idea DNR, data stream is too short. Go for another 5 years then try and re-establish doe days. Let the people that live and hunt here predominately have a better herd.

    • dlhj1 on April 6, 2023 at 6:34 pm

      Hey there, agree with you about this being a terrible proposal. What I don’t get is why everyone is so quick to blame Florida for population declines. I’m a “Florida” hunter and in my experience, I’m the conservationist and my Georgia neighbors are the ones laying waste to anything and everything brown. Point is, it’s a two way street. Let’s not point fingers and work together to come up with better solutions!

  5. garyh on April 3, 2023 at 5:48 pm

    Stephens and Habersham counties just finally started seeing deer come back.

    And now they want to kill the does off. What the heck is wrong with our DNR!?

    Talk about idiotic!

    • deerbear on April 6, 2023 at 10:39 am

      I agree !!
      record harvest after record harvest
      should be enough for the hunters
      need to think about the deer too
      ,,l,, DNR

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