VOTES: Deer Hunters Not Happy With The 2004-05 Georgia Season
Like any other deer season, how it went depended on who you talked to, but many hunters said the 2004-2005 season was slow.
The 2004-2005 deer season was like every other season of late in that lots of really nice bucks were taken in all areas of the state. However, a signficiant number of hunters were not satisfied with how the season played out.
A variety of factors probably led to slow hunting. An outstanding mast crop kept deer feeding on acorns in the hardwoods for most of the season. The weather stayed warm throughout the season with the exception of a couple of brief cold snaps, and many hunters mentioned a rut that was either hardly noticeable or nonexistent. But far and away the most common reason cited for a poor season was simply a lack of deer.
Consider that 45.5 percent of the hunters who responded rated the season as poor. Before this season, the highest percentage of “Poor” ratings we’ve received since the Rate Your Deer Season feature began in 1993 was 29.4 percent — and that was the 2003-04 season. The average percentage of “Poor” responses is only 19.9 percent. Last season also generated the lowest percentage of “Excellent” ratings (8.2 percent) and the lowest percentage of “Good” ratings (18.4 percent) ever recorded. On average, the combined “Excellent” and “Good” ratings have tallied 55 percent of the responses. For the 2004-05 season, they combined for only 27 percent.
Below are the ratings by county, including some comments on why hunters rated the season as they did. Next to each county are letters representing a rating (E for excellent, G for good, F for fair and P for poor). If your county isn’t listed, we received no response from hunters there.
Appling Co. P-1
Poor – Only saw one good buck opening day. I believe the lack of a killing frost until Christmas, excellent browse and acorns contributed to the worst year I’ve had in 10-15 years.
Atkinson Co. E-1, F-1, P-1
Excellent – We had an excellent acorn crop this year. All bucks harvested on our lands were eight points or better.
Fair – Rut seemed “off and on.” I say we need a lower bag limit. It’s very discouraging seeing no nice bucks and a few small bucks.
Poor – What is the DNR doing? A 10- to 15-doe limit and anything goes mentality. Is it quantity or quality we want?
Baldwin Co. E-1, G-1
Good – Wasn’t even able to tell there was a rut. Too much food in the woods was probably the reason for not seeing more deer.
Banks Co. P-3
Poor – Please reduce doe days and implement a statewide 8-point minimum for hunters over 16 years of age.
Barrow Co. G-1, P-1
Bartow Co. G-1, F-4, P-1
Good – We saw less deer, but they are in excellent condition.
Ben Hill Co. E-1, G-1
Excellent – I saw more deer than last year.
Berrien Co. G-1
Bibb Co. F-1
Bryan Co. P-2
Poor – Bag limit is too high. With the number of deer we can harvest now, some clubs harvest anything that moves.
Bulloch Co. F-1, P-1
Poor – Too many dogs running, too many does killed. Dog clubs aren’t respecting buck limits.
Burke Co. F-1, G-1
Good – I see too many little bucks at the processor. Let them walk, and your hunting area will improve.
Fair – Not seeing many deer. Lower the limit please!
Calhoun Co. P-1
Poor – Hunters taking too many small deer.
Candler Co. F-1, P-1
Poor – Last year, we began to see fewer deer. This year, it was pitiful.
Carroll Co. E-1, G-1, P-4
Good – I had a good season for meat. I would say the bucks are one to every 10 does in the area I’m hunting.
Poor – Only saw 10 deer all season and hunted two days a week. It is hard to get my 10-year-old interested in hunting when we don’t see any deer. DNR needs to cut the bag limit back down.
Chatham Co. P-1
Poor – Only hunted twice. Saw no deer.
Chattooga Co. E-1, F-2, P-1
Fair – Rut kicked in the final week of the season. Saw bucks chasing does on the last day. I’ll probably find continued rut sign into turkey season.
Poor – Bag limits are way too high, DNR needs to recheck deer population numbers.
Cherokee Co. E-1, G-1, F-2
Fair – It never fails, on buck-only days, I see does. We need more doe days.
Good – Reduce the bag limit.
Clay Co. F-1
Clayton Co. P-1
Poor – “Poor” for harvest but “excellent” for seeing deer.
Coffee Co. E-3, G-1, F-1
Excellent – My son and I saw deer every trip but four, including seeing six different bucks from one stand.
Columbia Co. E-1, F-1, P-1
Poor – Food did not affect my hunting. I saw very few deer. Deer limit should be three does, two bucks, one of which must be 8 points with 16-inch spread.
Colquitt Co. P-2
Poor – I did not see a deer in 17 days of hunting hard. Did not hear a lot of shots either.
Coweta Co. G-3, P-2
Good – Acorns were excellent. More bucks were killed than last season. Does were adequate and easy to find with the good mast crop.
Poor – Please, DNR, go back to three- or five-deer limits. The full-time season of killing does, not to mention the explosion in the coyote population, has decreased our deer tremendously. If things don’t change, I’ll no longer be called a deer hunter.
Crawford Co. G-1, F-1, P-4
Good – Saw more bucks than in the last 10 years. QDM does work.
Poor – Greatly reduce doe killing. Our small leases (100-200 acres) are suffering from overkill of antlerless deer.
Poor – Deer sightings are down. So few deer, we cannot tell when rut is occurring. Please lower harvest rates. We don’t have to harvest a deer for a hunting trip to be successful, but it would be nice if our children could see a deer on our hunts.
Dade Co. P-1
Dawson Co. F-2
Fair – Never saw a deer after black-powder week. Saw plenty of good, fresh sign, but it was all done at night. The moon was too bright this season, even when it wasn’t full.
Decatur Co. G-1
DeKalb Co. G-1
Good – QDM for five years is paying off.
Dodge Co. G-1, F-1, P-2
Fair – Overall deer movement was slow and strangely I never found a single scrape.
Poor – Two of us didn’t see a deer all season, and we hunted more than the others.
Poor – Keep same buck rule, but change does to two. Too many button bucks killed.
Dooly Co. F-2, P-1
Fair – Too many does are being killed.
Poor – There isn’t enough room here to tell you how bad the doe shooting problem is. There are pockets around the state where there are too many deer, but not many. Our group put a moratorium on shooting does.
Douglas Co. G-1, P-1
Poor - Too many acorns. We rely on a small food plot on 17 acres. Saw only two bucks, no does all season.
Early Co. G-3
Good – Low hunting pressure and supplemental feeding helps our property hold plenty of deer.
Good – Only because I shot a nice 10-point buck. Overall it seems we see less and less deer though I am hunting more days than ever. In my eight-member club, only three people shot deer.
Echols Co. F-1, P-1
Fair – Deer feed at night. Didn’t see the deer we normally do.
Effingham Co. P-1
Elbert Co. P-3
Poor – Just keep on slaughtering the does and there won’t be any deer left. Only the rich will be able to hunt.
Emanuel Co. F-1, P-1
Fair - Less deer on property, fewer does.
Poor – In 30 years, this is the first year I didn’t take a deer in Georgia. I didn’t hunt as much, but when I went, I didn’t see many deer at all.
Fannin Co. G-1, F-2, P-1
Poor – Here in the mountains, we need fewer doe days.
Fayette Co. G-1, P-1
Good – Scopes on muzzleloaders would be great. I can’t see iron sights anymore.
Poor – Normally, our land is covered with does. This year, I saw very few.
Floyd Co. G-3, F-2, P-1
Good – Let me choose what day to take a doe.
Franklin Co. F-1, P-1
Fair – Didn’t see any deer until December. I’m sure abundant white-oak acorns had something to do with it.
Poor – I saw deer early when acorns were on the ground but saw no bucks all season.
Fulton Co. G-1
Gilmer Co. P-1
Poor – There are too many doe days in some of the northern counties. The deer sightings are not as good as they used to be. Hunter numbers will decline when the deer population declines.
Grady Co. G-1, F-1
Greene Co. E-1, F-2, P-2
Excellent – Best year ever. Got a doe on my first muzzleloader hunt and harvested my first 8-pointer ever the second day out.
Poor – The deer population is at an all-time low and continues to decrease despite planting more and more food plots.
Gordon Co. F-2, P-2
Fair – I think the doe kill here is too high. I want my kids to be able to see deer also.
Poor – Too many does being killed.
Gwinnett Co. E-1
Habersham Co. P-1
Poor – No deer! 17-deer limit, are you kidding?
Hall Co. F-1
Fair – Season was okay. It was hard to figure out when the rut hit. I don’t think the deer population is as high as DNR would like us to believe.
Hancock Co. E-3, F-3, P-9
Excellent – Second year of supplemental feeding, and it’s starting to pay off. Saw 22 shooter bucks.
Fair – We need to lower the number of does we harvest in Hancock. Lower deer population has been a steady trend.
Fair – Although we had a great 12-point on film, never saw any bucks greater than eight points all season. Acorns everywhere — rarely saw deer in fields. Never saw any rut activity. Only killed two does from 200 acres with four hunters.
Fair – The only bucks I saw this year were the first three weeks of November. After that rutting period, saw two does the remainder of the year. Six deer a year limit is plenty — 17 is unreal.
Poor – Worst season for seeing deer in over 10 years. Liberal bag limit has reduced deer sightings by at least 50 percent.
Haralson Co. E-1, F-3
Fair – Saw lots of deer early in the season but nothing later in the season.
Harris Co. G-1, F-2, P-2
Fair – Saw eight deer all season but only four of them were legal bucks (at least four points on a side).
Poor – Add January to the season.
Hart Co. P-1
Poor – Worry that hunters who shoot 12 deer don’t use them all. Who eats them?
Heard Co. G-2, F-2, P-8
Good – Rut occurred later than normal but was short-lived. I believe above normal temperatures contributed to lack of movement.
Poor – We are losing too many youth who become uninterested by sitting and seeing no deer.
Henry Co. F-2
Fair – Acorns did affect the hunting. Food plots weren’t used as much and fewer big bucks on trail cameras. Deer killed were good weight.
Houston Co. G-1, P-1
Irwin Co. F-2, P-1
Jackson Co. E-1, G-1, F-2, P-1
Excellent – Saw less deer early because they had plenty of acorns. After the acorns were gone and the cold moved in, they were moving to look for browse.
Fair – Raising the limit is not working.
Poor – No large bucks were seen and very little rutting activity.
Jasper Co. G-3, F-2, P-5
Good – I harvested three nice does.
Poor – Since the eight-deer limit, I don’t hardly see any deer.
Poor – Fifty-two hours in the woods and saw three does. Thanks DNR and insurance companies — as a 55-year-old avid hunter, I’ve bought my last hunting license.
Poor – I can’t get my kids interested in deer hunting because we never see any deer. I’m thinking of giving up deer hunting. Shame on you DNR. Deer are gone!
Jeff Davis Co. P-2
Jefferson Co. E-1, F-1, P-2
Excellent – I killed a 12-pointer on opening day that I entered in Truck-Buck. I didn’t see any more bucks and only three does the rest of the year.
Poor – Too many CRP pines — deer numbers are down. No one farms to the extent of the late 70s and 80s. On 500+ acres we saw 27 deer and took six does. Not a decent buck was seen.
Jenkins Co. P-1
Jones Co. F-1, P-4
Poor – Average weight was up but the number of deer sightings was down.
Johnson Co. G-1, P-1
Good – We plant several food plots and keep them growing all year.
Lamar Co. E-1, P-2
Poor – I believe the DNR is wrong. The 12-deer limit and the “if it’s brown, it’s down” mentality has wiped out the herd.
Poor – Saw four does in the first two weeks of season, then nine consecutive weeks didn’t see a deer. I’ve been hunting Georgia for over 25 years, and the last two have been the worst.
Laurens Co. G-1, F-2, P-2
Fair – I used to see a lot more deer five or 10 years ago.
Lee Co. P-1
Excellent – No 10-pointers seen in 2003 but nine seen in 2004. Should be awesome in 2005.
Poor – The 12-deer limit is too much. I hate to hear DNR might raise the doe limit to 15. I took two weeks off work at Thanksgiving and no success.
Lincoln Co. E-1, P-1
Lumpkin Co. P-1
Poor – Too many idiots on four-wheelers scaring the deer away! Can’t use doe tags if you don’t see any on doe days.
Macon Co. E-1, G-1, F-4, P-1
Fair – The 12-deer limit is simply too many. Too many does and button bucks are being killed.
Madison Co. E-1, F-1, P-2
Excellent – This season was a lot better than last. Saw a lot of bucks and took a nice 8-pointer with 17-inch inside spread.
Poor – Too much food in the woods. Saw very few deer all season. Don’t raise limits.
Marion Co. F-1, P-1
Poor – Increased bag limits have hurt the deer population in rural counties. If this continues, there won’t be any deer left except in the suburbs.
McDuffie Co. G-1, F-1, P-1
Meriwether Co. E-2, G-1, F-3, P-5
Excellent – We have way too many does, but we are now seeing a lot of 8- and 10-point bucks.
Excellent – Saw the most bucks I have ever seen in a season (60)!
Fair – I thought QDM would be working better by now.
Poor – Deer management is a joke.
Poor – QDM is a joke. Everybody talks about it, but nobody is doing it.
Miller Co. F-1
Fair – Not many acorns because of early storms.
Mitchell Co. P-1
Poor – What is really pushing the deer limit issue? Big landowners? Insurance companies? Our deer hunting is going backwards fast.
Morgan Co. E-2, F-3, P-5
Excellent – As long as the grandchildren can hunt and see deer, it’s great.
Fair – Saw less deer than ever this year. Been quality managing for 10 years. Deer only used food plots at night starting mid to late November. Saw more bucks than does during the season.
Poor – The 12-deer limit is killing us.
Monroe Co. G-1, P-6
Poor – There seems to be fewer deer every year now. Who needs 12 deer a year anyway?
Montgomery Co. G-1, F-2
Fair – Need longer season. Too hot early.
Newton Co. F-1, P-1
Poor – Only saw three deer whole season.
Oglethorpe Co. G-2, F-2, P-10
Poor – I bought both of my sons a lifetime license, but that was a waste of money. They will never get to hunt deer if we keep raising the limit.
Poor – DNR population estimates are too high. Insurance companies set season dates and bag limits. Unless this changes, the resource will be depleted.
Poor – Liberal bag limits have hurt.
Pike Co. E-1
Excellent – Cold weather hit with rut and really got the deer moving. Can’t wait until next season!
Polk Co. F-3, P-1
Poor – I have been hunting deer for 43 years, and I’ve seen nothing like this.
Pulaski Co. G-1, P-1
Poor – Seeing less deer every year. Too much feed early on, warm weather and rut timing off.
Putnam Co. G-3, P-6
Poor – Very little movement of deer. Too much food in the woods.
Poor – Hunted 20 afternoons from November 10 on. Found plenty of tracks, rubs, etc., but didn’t see deer while hunting.
Quitman Co. P-2
Rabun Co. P-1
Poor – Too many doe days in Rabun County and too many coyotes.
Randolph Co. F-2, P-3
Fair – Too hot!
Poor – Did not see very many deer. Overall it was just a poor season, but optimistic for future unless license fees price me out.
Richmond Co. G-1, P-1
Poor – Eight hunters took only two deer and saw only eight deer all season.
Rockdale Co. E-1
Excellent – We saw more big bucks and a higher number of does than usual. Maybe due to the acorn crop. Rut slipped in a little early for us, around the first week of Nov., usually peaks Nov. 15 – Thanksgiving.
Schley Co. F-1
Spalding Co. E-1, P-2
Excellent – Great year. Went on 68 hunts and saw a total of 70 deer. Killed seven.
Poor – The 12-deer limit is too high; 17 is stupidity!
Stephens Co. P-2
Poor – Hunted more and saw fewer deer. Unless something is done, hunting as we know it will be non-existent.
Stewart Co. F-2, P-2
Fair – We hunt QDM, so only two bucks were taken off the property. One 4 1/2-year-old spike was also killed. Worst part of the season was the weather.
Sumter Co. F-1
Talbot Co. G-1, F-3, P-6
Good – It was too hot. Made 14 trips to the woods and saw seven deer.
Fair – Limited daytime rut activity.
Poor – Deer and deer sightings way down.
Tattnall Co. G-1, F-1, P-1
Good – Two does killed on January 6. One was carrying twins and the other a single, reducing the population by five. I’m suggesting a controlled doe harvest in our club.
Poor – If you kill all the does, there won’t be any bucks for the next generation.
Taylor Co. E-1, F-2, P-5
Poor – I hunted in Taylor County a total of 17 days and only saw two deer.
Taliaferro Co. G-1, P-2
Poor – The deer population is way down.
Telfair Co. G-2, F-2
Fair – I think the deer population is overrated just to raise the doe kill and satisfy insurance companies. I’m sure there are too many in some areas, but not statewide.
Terrell Co. G-1, F-2
Good – Buck quality is up as well as the size of the does.
Thomas Co. P-1
Toombs Co. G-1, F-3
Fair – Young hunters like to see deer, but with insurance companies setting bag limits and seasons, smaller deer numbers result. This could be the downfall of our sport.
Troup Co. E-1, F-2, P-2
Excellent – Deer activity picked up in Nov. and was fantastic. One day in Nov. saw 24 deer. The next day saw five racked bucks. Great season as always.
Twiggs Co. E-1, G-1, P-2
Excellent – Please help save Ocmulgee WMA for future generations!
Poor – Plenty of mast and water. So, where are the deer? Pretty hard to figure.
Union Co. E-1, P-2
Excellent – In the area where I hunt, you can see 100 does in the fields in the evening and no bucks. I think we need more than one rifle doe day.
Poor – You can walk for hours and not see the first deer track thanks to the doe days we already have.
Upson Co. G-1, F-2
Fair – Need to lower the number of does that can be taken.
Poor – Hope the deer population in the rest of Georgia is better than Upson County or you can change the name of GON to GONE!
Walker Co. F-2
Fair – I think the season should open and close one month later.
Fair – I hunted hard all of the deer season and saw seven deer — five bucks and two does. Twelve-deer limit is too much.
Walton Co. F-1
Ware Co. G-1
Warren Co. G-2, F-1, P-1
Fair – The rut was early and seemed to shut down in mid-November.
Poor – Too many doe days.
Washington Co. G-2, F-2, P-3
Good – I saw 40 bucks and eight does. I didn’t see any bucks after mid November.
Poor – Only saw two bucks, passed up to let grow bigger. Saw very few does, but saw a lot of tracks. Must have fed at night.
Wayne Co. P-1
Wheeler Co. G-1, P-1
Good – Best season in past three for seeing trophy bucks. Saw most of the deer during bow season, not much luck late season.
Whitfield Co. E-1, F-1, P-1
White Co. G-1, F-2, P-2
Good – Went 38 times, saw 82 deer. Do away with doe days, lower limit to six or eight.
Fair – No sign of rut. Too many acorns.
Wilkes Co. G-1, P-8
Good – Acorns were abundant. Saw 30 deer from same stand, seven bucks in one day.
Poor – Population too low. We kill good number of does, and let most bucks walk.
Wilkinson Co. G-2, F-1, P-2
Poor – This is the first time I can remember I didn’t kill buck or doe.
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