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Northern Zone Deer Baiting Still Alive

Governor signs executive order directing DNR to settle the matter.

Daryl Kirby | April 24, 2018

Just as the final pages of the May issue of GON were being sent to the printing press—and too late for the legislative report on page 14 of the May issue of GON to be changed—the governor of Georgia signed an executive directing DNR to take up the Northern Zone baiting issue. Based on the executive order, DNR will look at doing away with the Southern Zone and Northern Zone distinction.

There was significant political wrangling over the Northern Zone baiting issue during the last hours of the legislative session as politicians debated the current law. Since 2011, the law has allowed hunters in the southern half of the state to hunt deer with no distance restriction from supplemental feed, while Northern Zone deer hunters could be charged with a crime for hunting deer within 200 yards or in sight of placed feed. GON heard from representatives and senators who were unhappy and concerned about how the issue was handled during the session.

After the legislative session ended, Gov. Deal signed the following executive order, provided below in the exact wording as signed:

Whereas: In 2011, HB 277 was enacted, providing a framework for deer hunters in this state practicing supplemental feeding; and

Whereas: Since 2011, the Department of Natural Resources has found no evidence that hunting over feed has directly impacted deer harvest numbers, nor has the Department observed any direct evidence of disease linked to supplemental feeding in Georgia; and

Whereas: Pursuant to O.C.G.A. 27-3-9 and 27-3-15, the Board of Natural Resources is authorized to establish Northern and Southern deer hunting zones based on sound wildlife management principles; and

Whereas: In the Southern Zone of the state hunters may hunt within two hundred yards of feed, while those in the Northern Zone may not; and

Whereas: Such a distinction produces an inequity among licensed hunters based on geography which is not necessarily tied to deer population and abundance;

NOW, THEREFORE, PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORITY VESTED IN ME AS GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF GEORGIA, IT IS HERBY

Ordered: That the Department of Natural Resources evaluate and determine an appropriate expansion of the Southern Zone and present such findings to the Board for action based on sound wildlife management principles.

Gov. Deal’s executive order will give DNR time to set new rules for the upcoming 2018-2019 deer season.

GON will have more details on what this means for Northern Zone and Southern Zone deer hunters. Check for updates online at www.gon.com and in the June issue of the magazine.

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19 Comments

  1. gerald on June 20, 2018 at 4:42 am

    the whole “we should all have it or no one have it” is what amazes me the most about this topic, go read the “Rainbow fish” and you will ( I hope) see how silly that argument is, let’s bait and give the hunters who have fewer resources and the young have an oppotunity to judge deer in the field and choose what to take, and the whole nobody needs 12 deer because it is lowering the herd is crap, I see just as many now as i have in the last 10 years and I am not talking 1 or 2 sometimes as many as 8 in a group

  2. [email protected] on April 30, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    I live in North Georgia also and thank we our all one state never really understood why we have zones , however I think if it legal to hunt in south ga over bait then it should be legal in the north zones also , guess time will tell sounds like DNR board will decide thanks to Governor Deal , for leaving this issue up to the board to decide I feel that’s how it should be since DNR rangers have to enforce the laws they should decide what the laws should be let’s make it fair across the state don’t take away the rights of others that’s already in place just make it fair to all of Georgia

  3. ckersey33 on April 26, 2018 at 11:44 am

    It’s interesting to read everyone’s comments about hunting over bait (corn). I’ve hunted over it the past two years in the southern zone. I (like many people) thought it would be a huge difference to put out a feeder and hunt over it. Very likely it was my own ignorance, but, it’s not what you think. You will have deer come to the feeder, but a couple of items I’ve noticed:
    -Deer still prefer acorns over corn. You can put out all the corn you want but when the acorns are on the ground, they will go to them first
    -They naturally prefer to eat on the ground…and some large bucks will never eat out of a trough or under a spin feeder. This leads to you putting it on the ground, which causes it to mold and spoil…which leads to enormous costs of “baiting”.
    -Once the rut hits, just like anything else, all patterns and bets are off on the corn. The bucks will chase and they will first go to the natural areas (acorns and natural browse) to find does.
    -Unless you have a “HUGE” feeder, you will have to refill frequently, which means you’ll be blowing up your area each time you walk in to refill. Even if you’re scent free, you’re still walking through the area (you can guess what that does to the frequency of visits from large bucks)

    In my opinion, it’s tricky to hunt over bait or corn and to be honest it’s really expensive to maintain. If you’re not careful, you can spend a ton of money and also spend a lot of time watching an empty feeder.

  4. maco_outdoors on April 26, 2018 at 11:16 am

    Hard to believe this has come to governor issuing an executive order and so many people so worked up about it. Been a non-issue in Southern Zone. Hasn’t been great and hasn’t been terrible, just not a big deal one way or the other.

  5. TheDmac on April 25, 2018 at 10:42 pm

    I hunt over a lush food plot and don’t need corn to bring in deer. I see plenty of big bucks and does while on my lease. However, I most definitely need the corn feeder to get the hogs out of the thick swamp next to my stand while I am deer hunting. I hear them in the brush but never see them except on my trail camera while they are rooting up my plot during the night. I am in the Northern zone and we need to have the same rules provided to us as the hunters that live in the Southern zone. To all legislators and candidates, whether you have anything to do with making this happen or not. If you are not in support of removing the restriction from the Northern zone, then don’t even think about asking for my vote this year. You are not protecting the deer with this no bait rule, you are protecting the feral hogs !

  6. Marknlani on April 25, 2018 at 2:37 pm

    Shooting deer feeding on bait is no different than putting doe in estrus out during rut. Kinda like me saying, why do you need a gun to shoot a poor defenseless deer… you shouldn’t be able to use a gun , use a bow instead. Obviously everyone is entitled to their opinion. Mine is no one needs to kill 12 deer a year. Its hard when you’ve thinned the deer population down to almost nothing in the “northern zone” to introduce kids to deer hunting when they don’t get a shot at a deer the whole season. Baiting is a good way to help a kid like mine who would simply like the opportunity to get a shot at one.

  7. Adam on April 25, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    Agree with Jerry and the rest of y’all. Got pigs on our property and like to bbq. Shooting deer isn’t an issue on other areas of my lease. Like to keep the feeder spinning year around for some pork.

  8. dfurdennis on April 25, 2018 at 10:53 am

    Seems to be a lot of southern zone favoritism for a lot of hunters who have thousands upon thousands of acres of farmland to hunt anyway. Why is there an imaginary line running trough the state?? Seems to be a little unfair for those of us who only haveva limited amount of resources.

  9. dfurdennis on April 25, 2018 at 10:48 am

    Why is there an imaginary line through the middle of the state? Biologist cannot prove or disprove the thoery that baiting can spread disease or improve the quality of deer hunting so why is there exception taken for the hunter in the southern zone, who by the way have thousands of acres of farmland to hunt anyway. It should be the same across the board, I do not have the land or resources to have quality food plots to hunt over. Doesnt seem to be very far serms to be a lot of favoritism for southern zone deer hunters.

  10. Todd Wimberly on April 25, 2018 at 10:44 am

    I hunt in the northern zone and I think the entire state should be handled the same, since the southern zone already has the deer baiting in place then that’s the direction the entire state should go, I wouldn’t want to see it taken away from the hunters in the southern zone.
    To rastringers point if you don’t want to bait then don’t, no one is forcing you. As hunters and sportsmen we need to support all types of legal hunting whether we participate in it or not, we don’t want to be divided amongst ourselves and give the anti hunters things to use against us.

    • kenny sargent on April 25, 2018 at 1:37 pm

      I agree with a lot of what you are saying, but the whole “if you don’t want to bait then don’t, no one is forcing you” is a little off to me. It sounds great and all until the people on the adjoining property decide to dump a ton or two of corn out on their property a couple of weeks from the start of the season. At that point, no matter the work the people on the property that is not baiting has done to create good deer habitat, they will be losing mass amounts of deer to these bait sites. IMO, this will force almost everyone to bait if they plan to have a productive deer harvest.

      Join the discussion

  11. OlePopaw on April 25, 2018 at 10:42 am

    There’s a line called the state line. There’s a county line whereas doe days are concerned. There’s a property line. There’s a reason the sign says “don’t feed the wildlife”. There are hunters who hunt. The Governor demanding expansion? Seems he was baited too, with wording.

  12. kenny sargent on April 25, 2018 at 9:45 am

    Personally, I would prefer no one in the state be allowed to hunt over a pile of feed. Not much sport to shooting deer on top of a pile of corn you’ve poured out.

  13. rastringer on April 24, 2018 at 10:21 pm

    I live in the southern zone and have no problem with hunting over corn. it is no different than hunting over a food plot. In many of our thick areas and poor soil Feeders is what we like to have for our deer. Despite what some people think deer do not come running to bait. If you don’t want to put out bait for deer then don’t. No one is forcing someone to.

  14. roundbaby on April 24, 2018 at 10:11 pm

    I ALSO LIVE IN THE NORTHERN ZONE AND THINK EQUAL OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL ZONES IS JUST COMMON SENSE. WHY IS IT TAKING SO LONG ALREADY. IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BAIT YOU’RE HUNTING AREA, JUST DO AS YOU’VE BEEN DOING. I FEEL DISCRIMINATED AGAINST MY STATE TO HAVE OUR HERITAGE DIVIDED BY A LINE IN THE SAND SO TO SPEAK
    ALLOW US TO BE PART OF EQUAL OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL-THANKS

    • Chris on June 17, 2018 at 3:46 am

      I agree. WTH is taking so long? I mean the southern zone has been able to bait since 2011 and it sure as hell hasn’t affected the deer herd by causing the spread of CWD or any of that other BS some of these anti northern zone baiting people keep bringing up. Legalize it statewide. Just because you put a feeder on your land doesn’t mean you are guaranteed a big buck

  15. bholbrooks on April 24, 2018 at 9:26 pm

    I think we should do away with the northern and southern zones and just call it Georgia. The whole state should have the same hunting laws, regulations and seasons.

  16. jerry jordan on April 24, 2018 at 3:36 pm

    I live in the northern zone & feel like we should have the same rights as those that live in the southern zone

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