VPA Public Hunting Tracts

Federal funds help WRD lease private tracts of land across the state that offer a variety of public hunting opportunities, from dove fields to good deer hunting.

Eric Bruce | July 28, 2023

While in the Marion County area for a hunt on a WMA, Dar Goodrow decided to try bowhunting Chattahoochee Fall Line VPA, a 2,492-acre tract leased by the state in the Voluntary Public Access program. Dar arrowed this 10-point buck just 10 minutes into his first hunt at the area.

The state of Georgia has plentiful opportunities for the public-land hunter, with 110 Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), 11 state parks that allow some deer hunts, seven public fishing areas (PFAs), in addition to the federal lands including National Forests, National Wildlife Refuges (NWR), corps lands, and many other public lands to hunt on.

One category of public land that allows hunting that is not as well known is the Volunteer Public Access (VPAs) properties. There are 18 VPAs scattered across the state that range from the 20-acre Wayne State Farm to the 5,087-acre Treat Mountain tract. Most of these properties offer archery deer hunting and a few allow firearms hunting. A few have dove hunts, or they might offer turkey, duck, small game and bear hunting.

These VPA properties are located all around the state, and chances are there is one near you. These have seen light hunting participation and pressure and could be the opportunity for the hunter to take advantage of some excellent under-utilized hunting. But as with any public-hunting area, be sure to know and thoroughly understand all the regulations before going.

Last season, Dar Goodrow, of Waleska, took his son on the youth hunt at the Chattahoochee Fall Line WMA Hilliard Tract. He had hunted the area previously and knew of some good spots. Arriving the day before the youth hunt, Dar and his son decided to bowhunt the nearby Chattahoochee Fall Line VPA. He set his son up in his climbing standing up on a hill and Dar went down to a wetland area to set up.

“Ten minutes later a buck walks out at 75 yards and makes a scrape,” Dar said. “I grunted at him and he walks straight to me and I shot him.”

The buck ran off and then laid down. Dar backed out and came back later with some help and jumped the buck up out of its bed, and he put another arrow in him. The buck crossed a creek, and they again backed out but returned later with more help and recovered the handsome 10-pointer.

“We’ve hunted there three times and have seen deer on all the hunts,” Dar said. “My son saw 20 deer on one hunt. There’s some good deer down there, and not too many people hunt it.”

While there’s obviously no guarantee that you’ll kill a 10-pointer when you hunt a VPA, the lower hunting pressure may give you a better-than-average chance.

For clarification, Chattahoochee Fall Line WMA is located in Chattahoochee, Marion and Talbot counties and has four separate tracts named Almo (6,700 acres), Blackjack Crossing Area (1,600 acres), Fort Perry Area (2,100 acres) and Hilliard (8,089 acres). They all offer archery deer hunting, but the firearms deer hunts vary on the different tracts.

The Chattahoochee Fall Line VPA is separate and offers only archery deer hunting in addition to small game and turkey. The VPA is further divided into four tracts with a new one, Parker Mill Creek (633 acres), added this season for a total of 3,134 acres. These are not to be confused with the Chattahoochee WMA near Helen of the Chattahoochee Fall Line WMA tracts.

The Voluntary Public Access program in Georgia began in 2014 with a grant from the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Services (NRCS).  From there the state Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) began recruiting private landowners to allow public hunting on their lands.

All the lease arrangements are different and are negotiated with each landowner. The state offers financial incentives (they pay them) based on acres, recreation types and habitat quality. Landowners are provided liability protection, security, fence and sign erection and maintenance, wildlife habitat  technical assistance, and much flexibility with dates, access and use types. It can be a beneficial arrangement for some landowners and certainly for us hunters.

The state works to locate and recruit new landowners. WRD uses ads, online forms, brochures and other methods to reach landowners who might want to offer their property to the VPA program.

“The largest limiting factor is landowner interest,” says biologist Kevin Lowrey, who handles the program with Georgia’s Wildlife Resources Division (WRD). “We can work with all private landowners or organizations, but we cannot work with municipalities.”

The prices that the state pays for VPA leases vary, and they’re all negotiable.

“We pay competitive prices, though on the low end,” said Kevin. “It must be a fit and have value. We’ll pay for good hunting access, even fishing access (Chattahoochee Fall Line).”

Small-game hunters are not required to sign in, but deer hunters should sign in online. Harvest and success data is limited for VPAs at this point, but for last season, 221 hunters signed in and 176 deer were recorded as harvested on Georgia VPAs. That is an outstanding ratio, but Kevin cautions that this data might not be complete.

VPA properties come and go as leases expire or a landowner’s wishes change. Former VPAs include the Paulding Forest Mountain Tract and the Tallapoosa River Tract (the state purchased this one).  Grant cycles are when the state acquires the money for VPAs from the NRCS, which occur every three to four years.

Below is some general info about the newer VPAs added in recent years in the current grant cycle. Before hunting any public land, make sure to study the official Seasons & Regs booklet, which is available online at

Note: A June 2019 article has info on older VPAs (

Cedar Grove VPA is 294 acres in Laurens County south of Dublin. Cedar Grove VPA was first leased in 2020 and provides deer, small game and turkey opportunities. There is no coyote or hog seasons on this property. Hunters utilizing this area for deer or turkey hunting should be sure to check their game using Georgia Game Check and select Public Land option, Laurens County, and then Cedar Grove VPA.

State biologist Theron Menken reports that Cedar Grove VPA  “is currently a mix of upland pine/hardwood, hardwood drains and a small stand of longleaf pine. For the 2022-23 season, we had 39 hunters sign in and report one buck harvested for the property.  Fifteen turkey hunters signed in and harvested one gobbler. Unfortunately, the landowner is doing a timber operation and is cutting almost the whole area from my understanding. We currently have two more years on this VPA contract when a decision will be made on renewal.”

Charles Hensen VPA is 750 acres in Dade County near Trenton, with state season hunting for archery deer and bear and quota turkey hunts.

WRD biologist David Gregory said, “The terrain is very steep. It is located in Dade County northeast of Rising Fawn. It is pretty much the steep portions of Johnson’s Creek located along Lookout Mountain. This property is owned by Southeastern Cave Conservancy and is only open to the public for hunting activities during the designated hunting seasons. Access to the area is limited. However, there is a considerable amount of deer on the property as part of the goal for the area is to reduce the deer herd size.”

Last season, 96 bowhunters signed in and harvested 17 deer.  Access to this land via the VPA agreement is for hunting opportunities only. All other activities such as hiking, fishing or caving is strictly managed by the SCC. This land has many private property in-holdings, so please be respectful of private property while enjoying this hunting opportunity.

Chattahoochee Fall Line VPA:  The CFL VPAs have included the Brown Springs Tract (1,174 acres), Ingram Tract (935 acres) and the WR Bean Tract (391 acres). New for this year is the 633-acre Parkers Mill Creek tract. The CFL VPA tracts total 3,134 acres. These tracts offer archery hunting opportunities for deer, and turkey and small game may be hunted with all legal weapons. No ATVs or horses are permitted. Hunters must check the kiosk daily for prescribed burning schedules and locations. Hunters utilizing these areas for deer or turkey hunting should be sure to check their game using Georgia Game Check and select Public Land option, Marion County, and then Chattahoochee Fall Line VPA.  Kiosk and hunt maps for all CFL VPA tracts are located on Young Road.

Cochran’s Creek VPA is 2,507 acres in Dawson County near Dawson Forest WMA and Amicalola Falls State Park. The first public hunting here was for turkey this past spring, and public deer hunts will held for the first time this fall. Deer, bear, turkey and small game can be hunted in this mountainous property.

The property reportedly was hunted by a hunting club the last few years. A former club member stated that despite professional trappers removing numerous coyotes each year, it was still tough to see and bag a deer. The turkey and bear populations are a little better, but it is rugged steep terrain and requires much effort to hunt it.

Scotland Road VPA is 199 acres in Laurens County and south of Dublin that offer state-season hunting for archery deer and small game. Scotland Road VPA was first leased in 2020 that provides deer, small game and turkey opportunities. There is no coyote or hog seasons on this property. Hunters utilizing this area for deer or turkey hunting should be sure to check their game using Georgia Game Check and select Public Land option, Laurens County, and then Scotland Road VPA.

Biologist Theron Menken also manages this VPA and noted that “35 hunters reported two does harvested, and one gobbler for seven turkey hunters. This property has also been clearcut since its enrollment in the VPA program. The VPA contract for this area also has two more years remaining.”

Tallapoosa River VPA is 3,053 acres in Polk County with a late archery deer/bear hunt and three, two-day youth firearms quota (60) deer hunts, plus turkey, small game, coyote and waterfowl hunting. In 2022, 46 hunters signed-in to archery hunt, and they bagged four deer. On three quota youth firearms hunts, 16 young hunters took eight deer.

Allison Melcher, the WRD biologist for the area, said, “Tallapoosa River VPA is alongside the Tallapoosa River near Cedartown and Buchanan. The terrain is variable—along the river it is fairly flat bottomland hardwood habitat with oaks and interspersed pines. There is some topography moving away from the river, but it isn’t extremely steep. The habitat overall is a fairly traditional mixed pine/hardwood forest. This past season, 50 hunters utilized the area and 12 deer were harvested. This property is youth-only for turkey hunting.”

Treat Mountain VPA is 5,087 acres, which is our largest VPA tract, and it is located in Polk County. It hosts three archery deer hunts in between three quota firearms deer hunts (200 hunter quotas). The quota hunts are “bonus” hunts, meaning that the state tags your deer for you. Hunters need to apply for these hunts just like other WMA quota hunts online by Sept. 1.

Also, there are three quota (10) turkey hunts, and small game and coyotes can be hunted at this new large VPA near Cedartown and Tallapoosa.

Last fall there were 91 bowhunters signed in and five deer exited in trucks.  The three quota gun hunts had 40, 27, and 35 hunters show up, and 10, seven and zero deer were taken, respectively.    

Biologist Allison Melcher said, “There is a fair amount of topography here, with some steep and more rugged mountainous terrain. The habitat is primarily more dense pine stands with some areas of mixed oak/pines. This past season, about 150 hunters utilized the area and 22 deer were harvested.

The Volunteer Public Access properties are another venue for sportsmen to access and hunt. The state WRD is doing what it can to provide more properties for hunters and give us more chances to harvest game. More lands could possibly become available for public access if more private property owners would offer their tracts to the state under this arrangement. If you are a landowner or know of one with large acreage, consider this program. If you’re needing a place to hunt this fall, check out these VPAs and you may find some good hunting.


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