Hunting Regs Meetings Top Topic Is Deer Bag Limit
A series of public meetings in February gave Georgia hunters a chance to share ideas and get information on proposed regulations changes.
At the Turner Lakes Community Center in Covington, hunters of all ages came and went. They were there to voice their opinions to Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) personnel on a wide variety of issues, including deer bag limits, baiting, dog hunting and others. The meeting, which happened on Tuesday, February 15, was one of a series of four held by WRD across Georgia.
The most popular topic of conversation based on written comments to WRD staff was the Division’s proposal to increase the antlerless deer limit to 15 per hunter per season. WRD Assistant Director Todd Holbrook and wildlife biologist Nick Nicholson manned the table as group after group of hunters came to talk about the proposal.
Many hunters feel the current bag limit, which allows hunters to take 10 does per season, has hurt the state’s deer population. Therefore, a large number of deer hunters oppose raising the limit any higher. John Bowers, senior wildlife biologist for WRD, said the comments received at the meetings were overwhelmingly against raising the limit on does.
Though a few hunters supported the idea of raising the limit, and some wanted it lowered, the vast majority wanted to see no change.
“The ones who commented were far and away opposed to raising the bag limit on does,” John said.
Adam McGinnis, a landowner from Jasper County, questions the state’s deer-density numbers.
“We aren’t seeing any deer, and I think it has a lot to do with the bag limit,” Adam commented.
Adam is worried that more hunting seasons like the one deer hunters had in 2004-05 will have a serious impact on Monticello’s economy, which leans on hunters who come from other areas.
Citing a lack of industry in the middle Georgia city, Adam said, “The only reason people come to Monticello is to deer hunt.”
Still, he was pleased with the fact that WRD held the open meetings so hunters could comment.
“If you don’t say anything, you won’t get anywhere,” Adam said. “We’re going directly to the state with our concerns.”
Ray Berryhill of Jackson echoed that sentiment. He said that talking with wildlife officials gave him a better understanding of the issues on the table.
“I just came to have my voice heard,” Ray said.
John said many people stopped by to comment on baiting, which he said is a contentious issue that not only divides hunters but gives anti-hunters ammunition for their arguments. John said the people he talked to in Covington were almost unanimously against baiting.
“For the most part, people don’t want baiting to be allowed,” John said.
Other hunters mentioned issues that included extending the deer season to January 15 statewide, state purchase of WMA property and hunter access to small-game opportunities on WMAs.
WRD held similar meetings in Cordele, Jasper and Jesup between February 16 and February 18. At the Covington meeting, 75 hunters walked around the room, taking in a different format for the public regulations meetings.
The setup allowed hunters to move from one table to another, talking to different WRD personnel about several topics, and offered the opportunity for written comments on the issues.
On February 16, 83 hunters gathered at the Jasper public meeting, and down in Jesup, a group gathered for the same purpose. We were unable to gather any comments from WRD personnel on either session. The Cordele meeting was held after this issue of GON went to press.
“Some people offered comments on several issues,” John said. “It’s good to see that so many people are that plugged in.”
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