VOTES Survey: Rate Your Deer Season, Turkey And Dove Regs

It's time for GON's annual survey. This year we also ask questions about turkey hunting regulations and the new dove season structure.

Daryl Kirby | January 5, 2020

VOTES, which stands for Voice Of The Educated Sportsman, is a GON survey that has been around for more than two decades.

A question on the survey each and every year is Rate Your Deer Season, which gives us county-specific ratings that can be compared to historical trends. We simply want to know how your deer hunting was this season, and we’d like to hear why you gave it that rating.

In addition to the annual Rate Your Season survey, we’re asking 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 email the picture of your ballot to [email protected]. Simply include your comments in the email along with the attached picture of your cover ballot.

Also, again this year, GON subscribers who we have email addresses for will receive an online VOTES ballot, which will also include a way to write and submit comments digitally. This email survey is super convenient for GON members. If you got an email and did your survey there, we have your results—there’s no need to use your cover ballot.

Here are this year’s additional VOTES questions. To take part in the survey, you will need the January issue of the GON print magazine. If you’re not a subscriber, you can pick up the January issue on newsstands beginning around Jan. 6.

• Pick one day of the calendar when you expect to see rutting action in your deer woods. What is the traditional “magic day” for mature bucks rutting in your county?

We are always working to improve and tweak our GON Rut Map, and no one knows the deer woods and rut timing better than y’all—the avid hunters who spend every fall sitting in stands.     

• Southeastern states, including Georgia, appear to be seeing a reduction in wild turkey numbers. Biologists are looking into potential causes. Other states have begun to make regulation changes to address the wild turkey situation. Would you be in favor of new turkey hunting regs?

Something is going on in the turkey woods. Across the Southeast, wild turkey populations are down. In some areas, turkeys are flat gone from good habitat that supported big flocks for decades. The response from other state agencies has been to limit hunting opportunity, with the most common theme to start turkey season later after peak breeding.

First, let’s make it clear—Georgia hasn’t proposed any changes to our turkey-hunting regulations. However, other states like South Carolina are already starting turkey season later and limited gobbler harvest. Here’s an article about the significant changes to the South Carolina turkey season.

What’s your take on the turkey situation? Would you support any changes to the turkey-hunting regs?

• Georgia’s dove hunting dates are split into three seasons. This year, the second season was moved to late November instead of mid October. GON heard from dove hunters who said this change took away their opportunities for a second hunt over fields planted and timed to catch migratory doves in mid October. Are you happy with the new dove season structure?

Most dove hunters shoot birds on opening day and then store away the dove buckets until next year, but not everyone. There are avid dove hunters, and when the season structure changed this year, GON heard from some who weren’t happy about there not being any dove hunting in October. That’s when those hunters timed fields to mature to attract migrating doves.

A dove hunter in middle Georgia said, “There’s no food up here by November, so all the migrating doves push down to south Georgia where they have peanuts and agriculture—plenty for the doves to eat.”

If you hunt doves, do you like the new season structure that pushes more of the open hunting dates to later in the year?

Important reminder: If you only want to respond to Rate Your Deer Season and not the other ballot questions, you can Rate Your Deer Season with a quick email. 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 email  us at [email protected] with the subject “Rate Your Season.” To take part in the full survey, you will need a print edition of the January issue for the cover ballot.

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  1. scootch on January 8, 2020 at 9:43 am

    my email address is correct in my account on but I have not received a VOTE email. I would like to complete the survey this way. Can you send me an email or tell me if I need to do something or go somewhere on the site? (I did try searching)

    • Daryl on January 8, 2020 at 10:24 am

      Just sent you an email, thanks for letting us know you didn’t receive the survey.

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