Georgia WMA Youth Hunt Special 2019
Break out the hunting calendars, and start making some kid plans.
The big news concerning all WMA youth hunts for this season is that WRD lowered the maximum age at which a Georgia hunter is now considered a Youth and can participate in quota and non-quota youth hunting opportunities. The new maximum age for a Youth is now 16 years old; it used to be 17.
“By re-defining the Youth age to 16 and younger, it matches up with the Youth stipulation on the Special Opportunity Deer and Turkey Seasons and helps to avoid confusion of having multiple definitions of a Youth,” said Don McGowan, region operations manager for WRD’s Game Management section.”
As has always been the case, those Youth hunters who are 16, have the proper hunting licenses and have passed the hunter-education course can hunt without an adult chaperone on any of WRD’s Youth-Only hunts. They can also bring along an adult chaperone if they choose to.
Deer Hunts: Participation has dropped on WMA youth deer hunts.
Beginning in the fall of 2017, a change was made that stated only a youth could hunt, or physically kill a deer, turkey or bear, during both quota and non-quota youth big-game hunts on WMAs. An adult was there only as a chaperone and mentor for the youth.
Prior to 2017, WMA big-game “youth” hunts were called adult/child hunts. When those hunts were non-quota, the adult could also carry a firearm and kill a big-game critter. The big question last year was whether or not WRD would extend the rule into the next two years hunting regulations package, which was recently passed by the Board of Natural Resources.
“We have extended that regulation for the upcoming two-year regulation cycle,” said Don. “We want the focus of the entire hunt really to be on the youth, including the actual dispatching and harvesting of the game animal. I think it has been positive in that regard, but we have seen some participation drop off on some of the hunts where, I suppose, the adults really wanted to hunt and dispatch, as well.”
No matter the reason, it has meant some lower hunter turnouts on some pretty good places. Referencing the WMA Special on pages 44-53, look at some of the low hunter turnout numbers from 2018 Youth Only Hunts.
• Blanton Creek, Oct. 6-7, 4 kids on 4,800 acres.
• Chickasawhatchee, Nov. 17-23, 15 kids on 19,700 acres.
• Flint River, Oct. 13-21, 12 kids on 2,300 acres.
• Lake Russell, Nov. 9-11, 37 kids on 17,300 acres.
Flip over to page 44 to our WMA Special and search for these Youth hunts (YO). For those labeled “SH,” you and your kid will be sharing the woods with a few ladies and honorary license holders. However, if last season is any indication, sharing the woods won’t make it crowded in many cases.
WRD doesn’t halt their efforts at deer, bear and turkey. They’ve also got an impressive list of waterfowl, dove and other small-game opportunities throughout our state.
In fact, the folks in southwest Georgia are now offering three brand-new youth quota opportunities for those interested in trying quail hunting. Albany Nursery, Chickasawhatchee and Silver Lake will offer a combined total of 12, one-day quail hunts.
“In our region over the past four years or so, we’ve been prioritizing quail habitat to increase huntable quail numbers on all three of these areas,” said WRD Biologist Drew Zellner. “Now that the habitat is getting to where we want it to be and the quail numbers are increasing, we’re looking to hit on hunter recruitment. That’s something as an agency we’re always trying to do, but since quail hunting seems to be a dying art, it’s even more important to expose young hunters to it. With the complete experience of hunting with a bird dog, it’s a natural fit to get kids hooked early.”
Albany Nursery, Chickasawhatchee and Silver Lake all have history with general quail quota hunts. They’ve been popular, with many of them requiring hunters to dip into priority points. Refer to https://georgiawildlife.com/hunting/quota#odds for an idea of what you may expect.
“As far as participation goes, the Nursery is a popular destination, but with it being the smallest area, it has the lowest number of quota hunts,” said Drew. “Hunter success is creeping northward, but hunter satisfaction is high at most all of these hunts. A lot of hunters are not necessarily bringing home a limit but are seeing coveys and watching the dogs work, which, for many quail hunters, is just as enjoyable. Out of the three, Chickasawhatchee provides the most hunts with perhaps more numbers than the other two.”
These new youth quail quota hunts are not replacing the general quail quota hunts on the three areas.
For youth hunters who are drawn, they are allowed to bring two folks with them. The other two participants do not have to be youth, and both are allowed to sling lead at these little brown rockets.
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