Georgia WMA Deer Hunting Special 2019
As we crank out yet another GON WMA Special, I’m not entirely convinced that people read anymore. I think we live in a society of scrollers, those who exercise their index finger night after night on the couch looking for anything on a cell phone they believe is worth briefly stopping on.
Now, for those who read—or more accurately stated, read and study— GON’s WMA Special, I am completely convinced that it can put deer meat into your freezer. Below is an example.
In last August’s WMA Special, we pointed hunters to the No. 1 non-quota WMA hunt in the state. Turns out it was the either-sex, early November hunt at Beaverdam WMA. That 2017 hunt yielded 42.9% hunter-success rate for the 156 hunters who showed up.
GON asked why that hunt in 2017 was so successful. Look at what WRD Biologist Greg Nelms said in last year’s WMA Special in regards to that early November hunt at Beaverdam: “It usually falls during the rut and has the deer moving well. Second is that we usually have good weather and a good hunter turnout, which keeps the deer moving during the hunt. The hunt is also the first either-sex hunt for firearms other than an early (youth) hunt, which always has low hunter numbers.”
Pretty stellar stuff, huh?
I figured sharing this info with GON readers—and people who study—would mean a pretty good bump in participation for the early November 2018 hunt at Beaverdam.
Can I get a drum roll?
For the 2018 early November either-sex hunt on Beaverdam, only 147 hunters showed up. They dropped 64 deer and saw 43.5% hunter success. That’s an increase in success and a decrease in hunter turnout, in case you were keeping score.
Now I’m back to my point that I’m not sure we have many readers anymore… But for those still with me, let’s move forward. Even with such a stellar 2018 hunt, the early November Beaverdam hunt dropped to No. 6 in the “Top-20 Non-Quota Deer Hunts From 2018.” That chart sits just to the right and on this page.
The top-two 2018 non-quota hunts in the state were held at the Ohoopee Dunes McLeod’s Bridge Tract.
Never heard of it? Yeah, it was a brand-new piece of public hunting dirt last fall. On those top-two hunts, which saw 77% and 50% hunter-success rates, they averaged only about 32 hunters per hunt on 5,600 acres of property!
For those of you taking notes, I talked with WRD’s Chris Baumann about what in the world is going on with the Ohoopee Dunes McLeod’s Bridge Tract and its amazing success.
“High hunter success at the McLeod’s Bridge Tract of Ohoopee Dunes this past year is likely due to this being the first season it was open to the public after the property had been managed for many years as a private hunting club with very selective harvest. We also had relatively low hunter turnout allowing us to have a higher hunter-success rate. This property is quite diverse with river bottom habitat, many drains that divide the uplands and diverse uplands with multiple-age pine stands. Additionally, we have been actively harvesting timber through primarily thins this year and created multiple 2- to 3-acre wildlife openings that will allow us to increase the diversity of the property even more.
Chris continues, “This year’s hunting regulations (for the Ohoopee Dunes McLeod’s Bridge Tract) will be similar to last with this tract of the area open for all of archery season, hosting two check-in, either-sex firearms hunts (Oct. 24-26, Dec. 5-7) and one buck-only firearms hunt late season. For the traditional hunters, the other tracts of Ohoopee Dunes are open all season for archery hunting. As always, please check the GA DNR Hunting Seasons and Regulations Guide for specific information about our WMAs. Also remember that there are now online active maps of all WMAs showing the areas and which roads are open and closed for access.”
WMA Quota Hunts: If you’re going to participate in a WMA quota hunt, you’ll need to apply online at www.gohuntgeorgia.com by the Sept. 1 deadline. If you’ve never set up an online account, it’s an easy process that’ll unlock the door to 43 different WMA quota deer hunts to choose from. You can select only one hunt or pick as many as three to up the odds of getting selected for one. Or, if you just want to earn one priority point and start saving points for some of the more popular hunts in the next few years, you can do that, too.
Some of WRD’s quota hunts take a few years before you get drawn to go. Check out WRD’s selection-odd tables at georgiawildlife.com/hunting/quota#odds. This will give you an idea of how many points to use on the more popular hunts.
Ossabaw Island’s primitive weapons hunt was tops last year in terms of hunter-success rate. Even with 78.9 percent hunter-success rate, it only took two priority points to guarantee one of the 100 spots on the hunt. Forty-eight percent were selected using just one priority point.
Last season’s hardest quota draw was the second gun hunt on Flint River WMA. It took four priority points for a guaranteed draw, although 60 percent of hunters got in applying with three points. That hunt was the No. 18 most successful for quota hunts last year.
The brand-new Gaither WMA’s inaugural hunt the first weekend of November had a lot of interest. It also took four priority points to guarantee one of just 25 spots. That hunt was No. 19 for quota hunts in the state last year.
Meat Hunt: When you look hands down at the top meat producer in the state, that WMA is actually in White County, in the mountains…
Three out of four hunters who deer hunted at Buck Shoals WMA went home with backstraps. While impressive, don’t pack the Jeep just yet. Their three hunts were youth-only quota hunts, with one of those being a Hunt & Learn weekend. If you want to see some deer and have a high chance at success, you better figure out which young ’un you’re taking.
“The deer population at Buck Shoals WMA is high, and hunter success has reflected that,” said WRD Biologist Kevin Lowrey. This small, 582-acre WMA is very diverse and is situated along the game-rich Chattahoochee River corridor. The area is mostly mixed pine/hardwoods and hardwoods. We plant about 7% of the area in a variety of crops, such as peas, millet, oats, clover and sorghum. Another 3% of the area is in early successional habitat. This helps supplement the deer on the area and increases carrying capacity and fawn recruitment.
“We strictly control hunting and harvest on the area to help maintain the abundant deer population. We also try to minimize disturbance on the area year-round when hunting and fishing events are not scheduled. All of this is focused on providing novice hunters the best hunting experience in Georgia. Not only have we have enjoyed high success rates over the last three seasons, but also a lot of happy faces. I expect this season will be no different.”
Now it’s time for you to read and study. In addition to using our ranking tables in the August 2019 issue, you’ll see statistics for each hunt on individual WMAs. We know some of you enjoy flipping to your favorite WMA and seeing how certain hunts did last year. In addition, we provide three years of data for each hunt, so you can look at trends and get a better picture of how productive, or unproductive, these hunts are over time.
If you don’t see a WMA listed here, data was not available, or space constraints for this article didn’t allow us to include it. To view what WMA data WRD has online, go to www1.gadnr.org/dnr/deer/public.
If you read and study through this article and find success based on knowledge gained here, bless us with a picture of you with your deer and some caption info of your hunting success in the WMA deer woods this fall. Please send it to [email protected].
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