VOTES: Rate Your Deer Season, And The Impact Of Deer Baiting

Those questions, plus a question regarding where and how you feel DNR should spend money raised through the recent license-fee increase.

GON Staff | January 7, 2019

Hopefully you’ve put some venison in the freezer, and maybe there’s a buck at the taxidermist. Whether you were successful in the deer woods this season or not, certainly some memories were made during the time you spent in the woods.

The January issue of GON means it’s time Rate Your Deer Season, and it’s also time to express opinions on issues that are important to hunters and fishermen in the state. 

VOTES, which stands for Voice Of The Educated Sportsman, is a GON survey that has been around for more than two decades. An important question asked each year is the annual Rate Your Season Survey. This simple survey provides a consistent, yearly look at how deer hunters feel about the quality of something they are passionate about. More important than the annual rating, the survey provides a look at trends in hunter sentiment. Please take a few minutes and rate your deer season, which can be done by a simple e-mail to GON. To email the Rate Your Season survey, send to [email protected]. Include the primary county you hunt, your rating, and then please include comments.

In addition to the annual Rate Your Season survey, we’re asking two other questions this year. To answer those questions, you will need to fill out the ballot that appears on the magazine cover.  

You don’t have to cut off the bottom of your January magazine cover to participate in the VOTES survey. You can photo-copy it, or you can take a digital photo with your phone and e-mail the picture of your ballot to [email protected]. Taking a digital photo and e-mailing the image, and then writing your comments in the e-mail, is a very easy way to participate. 

Also, again this year, GON subscribers who we have e-mail addresses for will receive a Survey Monkey online VOTES ballot, which will also include a way to write and submit comments digitally. This email survey is super convenient for GON members.

Here are the 2018-2019 GON cover ballot VOTES questions:

Question 1: Rate your 2018-2019 Georgia deer season, and tell us why it was either Excellent, Good, Fair or Poor. 

The Rate Your Deer Season survey gives hunters a chance to voice opinions on the quality of this year’s deer hunting, and more importantly, what they think needs to be done to improve the deer hunting in Georgia. And with a major change for Northern Zone deer hunters this past season, the Rate Your Season had added value and importance.

We need to hear your comments. Please include your thoughts in a note along with your ballot or in an e-mail sent to [email protected]. 

Important reminder: If you only want to respond to Rate Your Deer Season and not the other two ballot questions, you can Rate Your Deer Season with a quick e-mail. Simply list your rating (excellent, good, fair or poor), the primary county you hunted, and write your comments on why you rated it that way. Then simply e-mail  us at [email protected] with the subject “Rate Your Season.”

Question 2: How does the Georgia law on baiting for deer affect your deer hunting?

The debate over baiting for deer raged between Georgia deer hunters for decades. The folks in favor of making it legal had their arguments, and the folks against allowing deer hunting over bait had theirs. Both sides made claims about what would happen if baiting for deer was made legal. 

Then the state legislature did something no one expected—they split the state and made it legal in the Southern Zone and kept baiting for deer illegal in the Northern Zone. 

The legislators controlled the baiting issue, and for seven years some powerful politicians in north Georgia weren’t going to budge and wouldn’t legalize it. Meanwhile, politicians in south Georgia were in favor of keeping deer baiting legal there. Regardless of whether they were for or against deer baiting, the vast majority of deer hunters felt there shouldn’t be different rules for half the state.

Then last year DNR worked an unexpected end-around that effectively legalized deer baiting statewide on private land. DNR couldn’t change the baiting law—only legislators could do that—but the agency could move Northern Zone deer line. 

DNR made the Northern Zone the Chattahoochee National Forest. All private land then fell under the “southern zone,” where legislators had deemed baiting legal.

The deer hunters in the state of Georgia now have experienced the actual reality of legal hunting of deer over bait. Hunters in south Georgia have eight years of history, and north Georgia deer hunters just had their first season. 

How did Georgia’s baiting law affect your deer hunting?

 The response options are Positive Impact, Negative Impact, No Impact and I Don’t Know.

Of course, comments on why you voted a certain way are very important on this baiting issue.

The days of predicted outcomes of legalized baiting for deer hunting are over. What was the reality in the Georgia deer woods?      

Josh McDonald, of Americus, put an exclamation point on his deer season when this Ben Hill County 10-pointer stepped out on Oct. 21.

Question 3: In 2017, Georgia approved a significant increase in the cost of hunting and fishing licenses and fees, with most increasing by 50 percent or more. GON will be taking a look at how this influx of revenue is being spent. What do you feel are the greatest needs for sportsmen in Georgia? Rank each of the 10 options below, with 1 as most important to you and 10 as the least important.

The GON staff chose these 10 topics—they have nothing to do with information we’ve received from DNR about actual or potential uses of the addition revenue.

Listed randomly in no particular order, the 10 possible ways the additional could be spent are:

• Better Reservoir Bass Fishing

• Deer Management and Research

• Wild Turkey Management and Research

• Nongame Species Management, Habitat For Those Species

• More Game Wardens

• Dove Fields on WMAs

• Duck Hunts on WMAs

• Trout Stocking

• Other WMA Recreation—Biking, Hiking, Horse Trails, Etc.

• Hunter Recruitment and Retention

Obviously, there are lots of other ways and areas where the additional DNR money could be spent to benefit sportsmen. What are your suggestions? Please include your comments.

In the coming months, we will be looking at where DNR has already begun to spend money raised from the license-fee increases, and also at areas where they might potentially spend the money in the future.

And finally, if you have a topic you feel would be good for a VOTES ballot survey, please send your suggestion to GON.

We’d love to hear from you.

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