Georgia Hunters Kill More Bucks And Does
Increase in doe days boosted harvest beyond expectations.
Deer season is over, and it looks like we had a big one. Early indications suggest that a substantial increase in either-sex opportunity across the state, including the end of “either-sex” days as we know them in the Southern Zone deer season, has resulted in a strong doe harvest. At the same time, it appears to have been an outstanding year for bucks in some areas.
“DNR has done exactly what they wanted to do down here,” said Bob Miles, whose Terrell County taxidermy studio and deer-processing shop is in the Southern Zone. “I’m about 150 deer up from last year, and I would imagine that is all does, because I’m down by about 30 on the bucks I’m mounting.”
Bob said that in the first week of gun season, which has never been open to doe harvest until last season, he took in 160 deer when 30 is the norm, and the increase was all does. DNR predicted that the end of “either-sex” days in the Southern Zone would result in an earlier, but not necessarily higher, doe harvest. Bob feels that in his area both are true.
“I know another processor who probably got in at least as many more does as I did,” he said. “They were shooting them, but I think they were shooting them when they normally wouldn’t be, when they normally would have seen a buck.”
Farther east in Atkinson County, Chester Brown of Brown’s Deer Processing in Pearson, said it was a great season for does and bucks.
“We got in between 500 and 600 deer, and we usually get in around 400,” said Chester. “The doe harvest was a little bit heavier than it had been; we probably got 25 percent more than we usually have, but we got more bucks, too. Bigger bucks. We caped out more deer for mounting the first two days of the season than we have any season yet.”
Chester added that opening weekend of gun season did not produce many does at his cooler.
“After Christmas, when people saw that they weren’t going to get a buck, then they shot a few does.”
In northeast Georgia and the eastern Piedmont, WRD biologist Kent Kammermeyer said that between a strong acorn crop and comfortable, dry weather for hunting, the season was outstanding all the way around.
“It was a really good year for everything: doe kill, buck kill, antlers, everything. Back in November everybody was complaining about hot and dry, hot and dry. While they were complaining they must have been killing a bunch of deer because there was a bunch in the cooler lockers.”
Kent said that on northeast Georgia WMAs alone, the hunt data is showing a record year.
“We killed more deer on WMAs in northeast Georgia than we have since the late 1980s,” he said. “They killed 305 deer at Blue Ridge WMA this year — they’ve never killed that many on that area since it opened in the 1940s. On Dawson Forest we had 69 quality bucks taken, which blew away the record on that area.”
Overall, hunter success on northeast Georgia WMAs was up from 7 to 9 percent in one year, Kent said, an increase of 29 percent.
WRD biologist Scott McDonald in Fort Valley said the cooler-tag data was still coming in, but so far it didn’t appear that the total doe harvest was going to be up significantly in his area.
“Early on, the coolers I go to were filled up pretty fast,” said Scott. “Some were off just a little bit as far as total numbers of deer, and some were ahead just a little bit.”
VOTES survey responses to the questions in GON’s January issue showed 21 percent said they shot more does this season than the year before; 77 percent said they did not.
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