Bill To Legalize Deer Baiting Active In Legislature

House Bill 277 would legalize deer and hog hunting over food or bait with no distance set-backs, eliminating the current 200-yard regulation.

Daryl Kirby | February 23, 2011

It’s usually good news when fewer proposed laws and law changes are introduced during a Georgia legislative session. So far this year it’s been a quiet session as budget concerns have dominated the scene.

However, for hunters, a significant piece of legislation has dropped. HB 277 would legalize hunting deer and hogs near food or bait with no distance restrictions. Currently, deer and hog hunting aren’t allowed within 200 yards or within line of sight of feed. HB 277 has been assigned to the House Game, Fish and Parks Committee. As reported last month in GON, the baiting bill is expected to make it out of committee this year and go before the full legislature for a vote. In the past, baiting bills have been bottled up in committees and have not seen a vote.

HB 277 would also extend the Southern Zone deer season to the third Monday of January each year. This would allow deer hunters to hunt the Martin Luther King holiday — always the third Monday in January — creating an extended holiday weekend to close the deer season. Currently, the Southern Zone deer season ends on Jan. 15, regardless of the day of week. The Southern Zone consists of counties south of and including (listed west to east) Harris, Talbot, Taylor, Macon, Peach, Houston, Twiggs, Wilkinson, Washington, Jefferson and Burke. No changes are proposed to the Northern Zone deer season. A sponsor of HB 277, Jay Roberts (R-Ocilla), said the reason for the season change is to end the Southern Zone season with a long weekend when children are out of school.

The legislative session has been quiet so far concerning gun issues. Currently, there are no gun-control bills in play. Only a few pro-gun laws have been proposed, including SB 98. Introduced by Sen. Barry Loudermilk (R-Cassville), SB 98 would open up more public spaces and meetings to people carrying concealed weapons. GeorgiaCarry, an organization known as the state’s “no-compromise voice for gun owners,” strongly supports SB 98.

“The bill effectively adds Georgia Weapons License (GWL) holders to the exemption code and will allow anyone with a valid GWL to carry everywhere in the state with the exception of school buildings, inside courtrooms, buildings that house prisoners and inside nuclear power plants. Passing this bill will be another significant step toward restoring your right to bear arms,” GeorgiaCarry said.

The other pro-gun legislation is SB 26, which would repeal the power of the governor to suspend or limit the sale or transportation of firearms during times of emergency.

“This bill is basically a Katrina bill that will remove the governor’s power to deny you the right to carry during a declared state of emergency,” GeorgiaCarry reports. A similar bill, HB 6, has been introduced in the House. GeorgiaCarry said it supports HB 6, but the organization feels SB 26 is a stronger bill for gun owners.

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Another proposed law some sportsmen may be interested in is HB 224, which would require registration of ATVs and all off-road vehicles used on public land, except for those used “exclusively for agricultural and construction purposes.” An exemption in the proposed law says it would not apply to a person “operating an off-road vehicle on property owned or leased by the operator or on private property with the permission of the owner or lessee of the property.” For use on public land, an off-road license plate would be required, with a registration fee not to exceed $30.

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