No Changes To Macon County Antler Regs

Spread-only rule will stay in place for Macon County deer hunters.

John Trussell | February 27, 2013

There were 53 hunters who turned out at a recent meeting with WRD about possible changes on Macon County antler regulations.

Macon County has a rich tradition of big bucks. In 1976, Harold Cannon, of Oglethorpe, dropped a B&C buck that scored 177 5/8. It’s one of seven B&Cs that have been taken in the county. Fairly recently, Rick Prendergast dropped a 166 2/8-inch buck in Macon County in 2011 that made GON’s exclusive Fab 40 list.

Macon County, a heavily wooded and agricultural county in central Georgia that straddles the Flint River, has consistently placed in the top-3 in GON’s Best Counties For A Big Buck rankings.

A lot of hunters were concerned that Macon County’s reputation as a big-buck mecca was in jepordy, which spurred a good turnout at a recent public hearing to see if there was enough interest in changing the county’s current antler regulations. The meeting, hosted by Oglethorpe Police Chief Harold Cannon, drew 53 individuals.

The meeting was chaired by John Bowers, assistant chief of Game Management, and he was aided by Charlie Killmaster, WRD wildlife biologist. Bowers said it was the desire of WRD to establish hunting regulations that are not only biologically appropriate but also reflect the desires of the public. Bowers presented a short video presentation and said the public hearing was to gauge public interest in changing the current Macon County buck-antler regulations. Three options were presented for consideration.

Option No. 1:
No change in the current Macon County’s existing antler restriction regulation, which is a buck must have a 15-inch outside spread to be harvested.

Option No. 2: Remove the existing antler restriction regulation and revert to the statewide rule.

Option No. 3:
Modify the current regulations to allow the legal harvest of any buck that meets the 15-inch minimum outside spread or meets a minimum 16-inch main beam length.

The meeting was led by John Bowers (right), assistant chief of Game Management, and biologist Charlie Killmaster.

Bowers showed slides that showed the results of each regulation, based on current research. Leaving the current 15-inch outside spread rule in place would protect 100 percent of the 1 1/2-year-old bucks, 33 percent of the 2 1/2-year-old bucks and 0 percent of the 3 1/2-year-old bucks.

Allowing the harvest of bucks with either a 15-inch outside spread or a 16-inch main beam would protect 100 percent of 1 1/2-year-old bucks, 6 percent of the 2 1/2-year-old bucks and 0 percent of the 3 1/2-year-old bucks.

Thus the difference appeared in the 2 1/2-year-old bucks class, where moderately less bucks would be protected if Option 3 was selected.

One hunter said he had noticed that a few bucks had nice high racks but they lacked the minimum 15-inch outside spread to harvest them, thus he favored Option 3.

However, most hunters spoke in favor of keeping the current 15-inch outside spread in place. Everyone who signed up to speak at the meeting was given a chance to do so. Hunters wishing to speak who couldn’t attend the hearing were allowed to make comments by e-mail or letter to WRD.

Recently, Bowers sent out a letter outlining the results of the public comment period, which indicated that most hunters (22) wanted the antler regulation kept as it are now. Some (13) wanted to harvest bucks with either a 15-inch outside spread or a 16-inch main beam, and some (10) wanted to revert to the statewide rule.

Bowers stated in his letter that public input indicated strong interest in the continuation of the current antler restriction regulation for Macon County, and there was no consensus that the current countywide buck regulations should be changed. In summary, Bowers said that, “The WRD has thoughtfully considered the public’s desire and will not propose any changes to the countywide antler restriction regulations at this time.”

Thanks to John Bowers and the WRD staff for their continued interest in matters of public concern, and hopefully the tradition of big bucks in Macon County will continue far into the future.

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