Legislative Update: Does DNR Need A Director Of Outdoor Recreation?

Another proposed law would allow cities and counties to restrict archery hunting under firearms-discharge ordinances.

GON Staff | February 27, 2023

Sportsmen groups including the Georgia Hunting & Fishing Federation, Georgia Trappers Association, Trout Unlimited and GON attended the “Keeping Georgia Wild Day” at the state capitol on Feb. 20. Leaders from DNR, the State House and State Senate, and Governor Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp showed their support for conservation by attending.

During what for hunters and fishermen has been a relatively uneventful session of the Georgia Legislature, along comes a proposed law that would create a new director-level position within DNR for someone with the power and duty to increase outdoor recreation in the state. House Bill 314 would establish the position of Director of Outdoor Recreation.

Hunting and fishing—along with camping, hiking and biking trails, water access and other types of outdoor recreation—are already managed through existing DNR divisions such as Wildlife Resources and State Parks —with existing Directors. So why a new Director? An insider at the state capitol said the push for this legislation is coming from environmental groups and a large nationwide company that sells hiking and camping gear. It’s not coming from businesses that sell hunting and fishing gear or licenses.

While establishing a new Director of Outdoor Recreation, HB 314 says nothing about how that person would be paid—would it come from DNR’s existing budgets? And you would have to assume this new director would need some support staff—is this legislation leading to a new DNR division? And the biggest question for sportsmen—would this new director and potential DNR division influence how WMAs and PFAs are managed in terms of outdoor recreation? Specifically, could it lead to a drift away from serving hunters and fishermen—even on acreage that we purchased through license sales?

The last thing we need is WMA area managers having to coordinate a deer hunt with some “passive recreation” event like a mountain bike race.

HB 314 currently sits in the Game, Fish & Parks committee, where no action has yet to be taken. Certainly, the questions above and others need to be answered before legislators create a new level of government and bureaucracy within DNR.

House Bill 421—Authorize Reasonable Limitation On Discharge Of Bows Within A Political Subdivision:

Archery hunting in the backyards of subdivisions in Atlanta and other metro areas continues to be an issue. Under current state law, cities and counties do not have the legal authority ban to hunting—they can only pass firearms discharge ordinances that ban the firing of guns. HB 421 would add archery equipment to those discharge prohibition powers for municipal governments. The bill cites “public safety” as the reason for this law change.

House Bill 244—Board Of Natural Resources, Effective Date For Certain Rules And Regulations:

HB 244 includes shellfish and seafood dealer provisions, but it’s a change allowing electronic calls for fox and bobcat hunting that might interest sportsmen. Currently, electronic calls are allowed for coyotes.

GON will update issues and keep sportsmen informed during the legislative session at

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  1. Scogar on February 28, 2023 at 4:30 pm

    This will be a travesty. I’ve been in my subdivision since 1999 and over the past 20 years the deer have become ridiculous. Where once my wife could have flowers now nowhere is safe. Last week my wife planted pansies in a pot less than 18 inches from our front door on the brick patio under the portico. The deer came onto the patio underneath the portico itself and ate all the pansies. On the freakin front step, I mean they could have rang the doorbell!!

    Over the past 3 -4 years I have hunted accurately and humanely and if anyone at all is within sight or sound I refrain from hunting. That means someone who is 100s of yards away by sight or sound results in me packing up my gear and heading to the house. My shots on deer are less than 30 feet because I do not want the deer running injured through the backyards of others. Nor do I wish to trespass

  2. BowChilling on February 28, 2023 at 12:35 pm

    How many injuries or accidents have been recorded that are directly related to someone Bowhunting in the suburbs?

    • Shawn on February 28, 2023 at 5:31 pm

      I would bet the farm that there have been exactly 0 incidents or accidents.
      Not including the feelings of some liberal.

  3. brwuga on February 28, 2023 at 12:15 pm

    Agree with CWC. Athens is flush with deer and without the backyard bow hunter, the only natural predators will be cars, busses, trucks, motorcycles, scooters and the occasional bicyclist.

    • Shawn on February 28, 2023 at 5:32 pm

      The end result id higher insurance rates and taxes. All them deer need to be picked up and tossed somewhere.

  4. Wayne Crigler on February 28, 2023 at 11:25 am

    The herd of deer around my house at Lake Lanier are a SERIOUS problem!
    We can’t plant anything…..tomatoes, shrubs, ground cover……ANYTHING.
    We allowed a couple hunters with bow to take a few, but the herd persists.

    Any law that prohibits bow hunting on my property is just crazy.

    FYI….I’m a bird hunter… deer hunting for me, but we need to control this somehow.


    • scott4121 on February 28, 2023 at 12:31 pm

      Im a bow hunter would love to hunt your deer if available

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