Georgia State Park Hunts Produce Great Success, Good Bucks

Sky-high hunter success — and some stellar bucks — greet hunters on quota deer hunts on three State Parks.

GON Staff | January 24, 2006

Land where hunting had not been allowed and where deer populations had grown so large that habitat was being damaged enticed more than 8,000 folks to apply for 605 spots on four state-park quota hunts, and the results did not disappoint. Overall on the four hunts, 457 hunters showed up, and they killed 394 deer for a staggering hunter-success rate of 86 percent.

The state-park hunts took place on Hard Labor Creek, Red Top Mountain, and at Richard B. Russell, which has held deer hunts for several years for handicapped hunters, but had never had a general firearms deer hunt. Red Top Mountain and Hard Labor had never been hunted before this season, although two years ago the state used sharpshooters to drastically reduce the deer population at Red Top.

Hard Labor Creek State Park in Morgan County produced this 11-point buck for Waylon Payne, of East Ridge, Tenn., during the first morning of the January 10-11 hunt at the park. The buck weighed 125 pounds field dressed and was 3 1/2 years old.

Hard Labor Creek, at 5,804 acres the largest of the areas, was by far the leader of the three in terms of hunting opportunity and deer harvest. Hard Labor hosted two either-sex firearms hunts, both with quotas of 250 hunters. For those two hunts alone, 5,059 hunters applied.

The first Hard Labor hunt took place November 15-16, and 204 of the 250 hunters selected showed up for the hunt, and they killed 214 deer. That’s a hunter-success rate of 106 percent, and the harvest on that hunt alone came to 23.5 deer killed per square mile — more deer killed in two days than many tracts of land support in terms of total deer population.

The second Hard Labor hunt was January 10-11, and 185 hunters killed 136 deer for a success rate of 74 percent. The 350 deer killed at Hard Labor during the two hunts comes to 38.5 deer per square mile.

Richard B. Russell State Park hosted one hunt on January 9-10 with a quota of 80 hunters. Sixty of the hunters showed up, and they killed 38 deer for a hunter-success rate of 63 percent. The hunt also produced seven wild hogs.

The only disappointment during this first season of quota state-park hunts was the turn-out at Red Top Mountain, where drastically lower deer populations because of the sharpshooting effort apparently diminished interest for hunters. Twenty-five hunters were selected for the hunt, but only 11 showed up for the pre-hunt meeting, and three of those went home without hunting. The eight hunters who stayed and hunted January 10-11 killed six deer for a hunter-success rate of 75 percent.

Scott Sargent, of Newnan, with a 7-pointer taken January 10, 2006 at Hard Labor.

Chuck Gregory, resource preservation program manager for the Parks Division, said he was pleased both with how Parks handled the hunts, and with the job hunters did.

“We didn’t have any problems,” Chuck said. “At the meetings we stressed that safety was our number one concern, and we asked hunters for their help because this was a management effort to reduce the deer populations. I think everyone was pleased.”

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