VOTES 2018: Rate Your Deer Season

Voice of the Educated Sportsmen also includes survey questions on a dedicated fund for land and parks; affect of baiting for deer.

GON Staff | January 1, 2018

A New Year and the January issue of GON showing up in the mailbox means it is time for an annual tradition among Georgia sportsmen.

It’s time to look back and Rate Your Deer Season, and it’s also time to express opinions on issues that are important to hunters and fishermen in the state.

VOTES, which stands for Voice Of The Educated Sportsman, is a GON survey that has been around for more than two decades. An important question asked each year is the annual Rate Your Season Survey. This simple survey provides a consistent, yearly look at how deer hunters feel about the quality of something they are passionate about. More important than the annual rating, the survey provides a look at trends in hunter sentiment. Please take a few minutes and rate your deer season, which can be done by a simple e-mail to GON.

In addition to the annual Rate Your Season survey, we’re asking two other questions this year. For these other two questions, the cover of the magazine is your ballot. Each reader gets one vote, which is controlled by your subscription mailing label for subscribers or by the cover ballot number for newsstand copies. While the Rate Your Season can be done simply by e-mailing GON, to respond to the other two questions, please use your cover ballot.

You don’t have to cut off the bottom of your January magazine cover to participate in the VOTES survey. You can photo-copy it, or you can take a digital photo with your phone and e-mail the picture of your ballot to [email protected]. Taking a digital photo and e-mailing the image, and then writing your comments in the e-mail, is an easy way to participate.

Also, for the first year ever, GON subscribers who we have e-mail addresses for will receive a Survey Monkey online VOTES ballot, which will also include a way to write and submit comments digitally.

Here are the 2017-2018 GON ballot questions:

Question 1: Rate your 2017-2018 Georgia deer season, and tell us why it was either Excellent, Good, Fair or Poor.

The Rate Your Deer Season survey gives hunters a chance to voice opinions on the quality of this year’s deer hunting, and more importantly, what they think needs to be done to improve the deer hunting in Georgia. We need to hear your comments. Please include comments in a note along with your ballot or in an e-mail to [email protected].

Important reminder: If you only want to respond to Rate Your Deer Season and not the other two ballot questions, Rate Your Deer Season with a quick e-mail. Simply list your rating (excellent, good, fair or poor), the primary county you hunted, and write your comments on why you rated it that way, and e-mail  to [email protected] with the subject “Rate Your Season.”

Question 2: How does the current Georgia law on baiting for deer—legal in the Southern Zone and illegal in the Northern Zone—affect your deer hunting?

The debate over baiting for deer raged amongst Georgia deer hunters for more than a decade. The folks in favor of making it legal had their arguments, and the folks against allowing deer hunting over bait had theirs. In many ways, the debate was like a political election. Both sides made claims about what would happen if baiting for deer was made legal. Then the state legislature did something no one expected— they split the state and made it legal in the Southern Zone and kept baiting for deer illegal in the Northern Zone.

Well, now the state of Georgia has seven years of history with half the state allowing baiting and in the other half it still being against the law. What’s the reality of those talking points, those claims and debate talking points?

What’s your take on Georgia’s current deer baiting law? The response options are Positive Impact, Negative Impact, No Impact and I Don’t Know. Turn to page 84 for more information.

Of course, comments on why you voted a certain way are important.      

Question 3: Would you support the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act, which would dedicate 75 percent of tax revenue collected from the sale of outdoor recreation equipment, part of which would be used to purchase land that might include public hunting or fishing opportunities?

This effort would dedicate 75 percent of tax revenue collected annually from the sale of outdoor recreation equipment, and set that money aside and dedicate it “for the purpose of the protection and preservation of conservation land.” The money would “provide for the acquisition of critical areas for the provision or protection of clean water, game, wildlife or fisheries, or natural-resource-based outdoor recreation.”

The last major land acquisition program in Georgia was Preservation 2000, an effort that ended up being funded almost exclusively by sportsmen through license-fee increases. That program resulted in several WMAs, including Flint River WMA in Dooly County, which produced this 10-point buck on Nov. 2 for James Plank, of Montezuma.

Also, according to the plan, some of the money would go to local governments for the acquisition and improvement of local parks and trails.

To allow for a dedicated allocation of tax revenue, the Constitution of Georgia would have to be amended. The Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act would seek to accomplish this through the creation of a ballot initiative presented to Georgia voters.

For more information, go to

If you have a topic you feel would be good for next year’s VOTES ballot survey, please send your suggestion to GON.

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