Deer Season Changes Proposed For Eight Southwest Georgia Counties

Gun season would extend to Jan. 15, while archery hunting would be open until Jan. 31.

GON Staff | January 10, 2023

Peak doe conception dates are listed above based on WRD data collected in those counties. (County in the extreme southwest corner with no name appearing is Seminole County.)

Changes in deer season dates could be coming to eight southwest Georgia counties. WRD Game Management will present a proposal to extend deer season in those counties as they begin the public-meeting process of drafting hunting regulations for the 2023-24 and 2024-25 hunting seasons.

For a number of years, GON has heard from some hunters  in southwest Georgia counties that later rut dates meant they were receiving the short end of the hunting stick when it came to being able to hunt the rut, a time when mature bucks drop their guard. Those hunters may get some relief with additional hunting days, and those plans are fixing to be publicly rolled out during the public meetings.

The proposed changes would affect hunters in Baker, Decatur, Early, Grady, Miller, Mitchell, Seminole and Thomas counties.

According to WRD Chief of Game Management Alan Isler, proposed deer season changes in the above counties would, “Make the first two weeks of archery season buck-only to accommodate late fawn weaning, extend the firearms season to a hard date of Jan. 15, and extend the archery season to Jan. 31 to the maximum statutory framework.”

Before the proposed change made it to the table, WRD spent time looking at conception dates of when does were bred by bucks in those southwest Georgia counties.

“The change is recommended based on the average peak rut date for those counties,” said Isler. “Average dates were calculated, using biological samples collected by plantation owners, farmers, hunters and staff.  The biological samples collected was precisely measured to determine exact conception dates (i.e. peak rut).”

Graham Lowe was just 10 years old when he used a crossbow to get this Early County 9-point buck on Sept. 28, 2020.

Hunters will have the opportunity to comment on the proposal beginning at the first meeting, which will take place virtually on the WRD Facebook page at 7 p.m. on Jan. 12. Six in-person meetings will take place next week and are listed below.

Additionally, members of the public who attend the Facebook Live meeting or one of the six in-person public meetings can expect to hear information or comment on the below possible changes by WRD. The meetings are also the time for sportsmen to comment on any other issues related to Georgia huntings seasons and regulations.

Alligator: Add 100 tags to current statewide quota.

Central Zone Bears: Consider additional day of hunting, if the harvest on Day 1 is not excessive (Central Zone Only).

Sea Ducks: Limit sea duck bag—of the four bird total limit, only three can be scoters, long-tailed ducks or eiders (only 1 female eider).

Mergansers: Remove two-bird limit on hooded mergansers; total merganser limit will still be five.

Turkeys, other small game: No statewide changes under consideration at this time.

“The main thing in January is the time for hunters to communicate to us on any and all changes they’d like to see, whether it’s a fairly minor thing on their favorite WMA, or a statewide major change to a season. If they can’t make a meeting (or even if they do go to a meeting), I strongly urge all hunters to consider emailing us their input to [email protected],” said Tina Johannsen, assistant chief of Game Management.

Tina said she reads every single email that is sent, which includes about 750 to 1,500 total comments.

At the conclusion of all the public meetings, WRD will compile comments and present them, along with their proposed changes, to the DNR Board in March. In April, WRD will host three public hearings, and those meetings are intended for comments on what is actually proposed in the March DNR board meeting. Comments on proposed regs are then summarized for the DNR Board meeting in May. The changes approved by the Board in May are what will go into the popular hunting guide that comes out in late July.

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  1. kevinann4 on January 17, 2023 at 8:36 am

    I think it is the right thing to do , may have taken a little longer that it should have , but never the less its needed , i hope that once you see this in action and the results , you will consider a couple more counties to the north , Both Clay and Quitman counties are basically in the same situation , Could be because they are border counties to Alabama and seem to follow there rut cycle , Just a guess.

  2. Robert Davison on January 13, 2023 at 11:24 pm

    I hunt Early County and have been hoping for an extended season to be able to capitalize on the late rut and the chance to hunt food sources during January when cold weather is more likely and predictable. These potential changes represent a great opportunity for those of us in the SW corner of the state. I hope everyone down our way will send in comments in support.

  3. kimbrel31 on January 13, 2023 at 9:52 pm

    Naw they ain’t no big deer in brooks and colquitt county😳big deer don’t live on flint river either. So I guess that knocks Mitchell out too. Baker and Thomas aren’t filled with plantations so I guess they have pee wees too 😜them deer don’t like the hooch that runs through early either that’s pretty funny

  4. Morrell on January 12, 2023 at 2:56 pm

    Great move by GA DNR! I would like to see it extend a few more counties to the northeast, but this is the right thing to do at least for now!

    Now restore the turkey season to mid March, put bounties on nest predators, and reduce the Gobbler tags each hunter gets and you will have that going in the right direction too!

    While we are at it, let’s take a page from Florida’s book and make minimum length for crappie 9 or 10″ across the state. Watch how the population quality blossoms!

  5. JasonRex on January 11, 2023 at 8:40 pm

    garyh, you sound butt hurt, so let me clarify a couple of points for you. Genetics are not effected at all, not even one chromosome -by season dates. Point 2, most of the counties listed aren’t all that special for trophy hunting to begin with, but DNR, with the help of Charlie Killmaster (the best man they have in the entire agency) has worked to give those fine folks a chance to hunt the rut. There’s literally nothing to complain about here. If you want to pursue legitimate grounds for complaints, please see the Georgia turkey season dates and fire away. Thanks!

  6. garyh on January 10, 2023 at 4:04 pm

    Kiss your wonderful genetics and nice bucks goodbye. Keeping rifle season out of the rut was the only thing that saved you down there.

    In 5 years, you will be like the rest of this miserable state.

    • drewrespess on January 12, 2023 at 1:32 pm

      Georgia has outstanding quality of bucks relative to surrounding states

    • Bone Head on January 27, 2023 at 11:27 am

      FYI , this is nothing new, the season used to end on the 15th, this just putting it back the way it was.

      Our big bucks are just fine.

      • Bone Head on January 27, 2023 at 11:31 am

        Clay County should have been included, I can go to my property in Clay County in late January and see chasing, but glad these counties are being changed.

        Thank you DNR and especially Mr. Killmaster.

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