Hunters Rate 2015 Deer Season “Poorest”Since 2012

Many hunters are blaming coyotes for poor deer season, most also want lower doe limits.

GON Staff | February 10, 2016

By GON Staff

Through the GON cover ballot on the January cover, we once again gave sportsmen the opportunity to rate their deer seasons. In addition, readers also could answer three pertinent hunting-related questions. The survey results from those three questions are on pages 91, 96 and 99.

Over the last decade in GON’s Rate Your Season Survey, a majority of hunters have been dissatisfied with their deer seasons, citing things like high deer limits, too many doe days and problems with coyotes. This year’s VOTES results paint about the same picture.

Of the 608 ballots sent to GON, 34.5 percent of hunters rated their deer seaons as “Poor,” the most popular answer when asked to rate seasons as Excellent, Good, Fair or Poor.

When comparing previous GON Rate Your Season Surveys, this was the worst deer season hunters have had since the 2012-13 season when 46.8 percent of hunters rated their seasons as Poor. For reference, during the 2014-15 season, only 24.2 percent rated their seasons as Poor.

For each county you will see a letter and number, which shows the number of season ratings for that county (e-excellent, g-good, etc.). Due to the large number of responses, we were only able to publish a fraction of the comments.

Appling Co. F-1

Baker Co. G-1, F-1

Good: Saw a lot of deer and killed a couple of nice bucks.

Baldwin Co. G-2, F-2, P-1

Good: Saw plenty of deer even though it rained the entire deer season.

Banks Co. G-1, F-1

Barrow Co. F-2

Fair: I noticed on our property as well as ones at the processor that the deer were small. We plan to put more feed out hoping this will help.

Bartow Co. F-1, P-1

Poor: No deer left on Pine Log and Allatoona WMAs.

Ben Hill Co. G-1, F-2, P-1

Fair: Saw lots of deer, but all good bucks are at night on trail-cam.

Berrien Co. E-1, G-1

Good: It was too hot most of the season.

Bleckley Co. E-1, P-1

Brantley Co. P-1

Brooks Co. F-1

Burke Co. E-3, G-2, F-2, P-1

Poor: Saw one deer all season.

Butts Co. P-2

Calhoun Co. E-1, G-2

Candler Co. G-2, F-1, P-1

Good: This season was much better than the past two years. We saw deer on approximately 75 percent of our hunts. Saw shooter bucks both on camera and in real life but not able to connect.

Fair: Too hot in December.

Carroll Co. E-1, G-1, F-1, P-2

Catoosa Co. F-1

Fair: Deer population is down in the areas I hunt.

Chatham Co. F-1

Chattahoochee Co. F-1

Chattooga Co. F-1

Fair: Did not have acorns. Did not see number of deer. Did kill one 9-pointer, so I can’t fuss. Doe numbers seemed to be down.

Cherokee Co. E-1, G-3, F-2, P-1

Fair: I have a major coyote problem. You can hear them in the evening before dark. Never heard that until this year. Also got over 50 coyote pics, another first.

Clarke Co. E-1, G-1

Excellent: The area I hunt is surrounded by residential buildings. No coyote problem and plenty of deer.

Good: Got six deer.

Clay Co. E-2, F-1

Excellent: I killed the two largest bucks of my life and entered the Truck-Buck contest.

Clayton Co. E-1

Clinch Co. G-1

Cobb Co. G-1

Colquitt Co. F-1, P-2

Columbia Co. F-1, P-2

Fair: Coyotes having a high impact. We are planning to organize a Coyote Cull (like GON) at our club!

Poor: Due to all the clearcutting done on our property, and the weather was so mixed up.

Cook Co. G-1, F-2

Fair: We had a huge acorn crop, and it seemed to keep the deer close to the river, so I had less sighting of big bucks. I did not get many on the camera either, and that is unusual, and I heard that from a lot of people in our club.

Coweta Co. E-2, G-1, F-1, P-2

Excellent: Lots of deer sightings on our farm in Senoia with four of five members killing a deer. Curious why Coweta got a limited anterless season when our adjoining neighbors in Fayette and Meriwether did not.

Good: I took my largest buck to date, and my son shot his first buck.

Crawford Co. F-1, P-1

Fair: Did not see many deer and not many mature deer. I believe the season is too long. I believe the season should be 60 days long with a strict doe and buck limit.

Crisp Co. E-1, F-3

Excellent: Stable herd with low pressure, bucks responded well to rattling and calling. With the high density human population in the Northern Zone, pressure will always be a factor. Success will depend on the hunters and their adherence to a sustainable plan more than state policy.

Fair: Low deer sightings.

Dawson Co. P-2

Poor: El Niño? Global warming? Or Mother Nature forgot the change the thermostat? Whichever the case may have been, made for a challenging season.

Decatur Co. E-1, F-1

Excellent: This year’s hunting season was excellent despite the warmer weather and the southeast winds. I did kill two bucks this year, a nice 8-point that weighed 225 pounds and  a nice 9-point.

Fair: Saw small bucks and does. Our rut began Dec. 27. Our season needs to be pro-longed until the end of January for at least archery.

Dodge Co. F-3, P-3

Poor: Warm weather, ag. permits and coyotes.

Dooly Co. E-1

Excellent: The buck age class structure in our area has improved and so has our hunting.

Douglas Co. E-1

Early Co. E-1

Echols Co. G-1, P-1

Poor: This was the poorest season for deer ever. We need to do something about coyotes, wild hogs and bears. We have too many bears. They could be eating deer as well as coyotes.

Effingham Co. E-1, P-1

Excellent: Lots of deer on our club. Saw a few bears on trail camera in August.

Elbert Co. G-3, F-3, P-5

Good: Doe count good. Fawn count half from last season. Buck count good. Took one 8-pointer, one 10-pointer, one female coyote that was chasing a fawn.

Fair: Saw some small bucks and does.

Poor: We only took two deer, one of those being a 6-point. We didn’t see over a half-dozen deer all season. After talking with other hunters in the area, nobody had an outstanding year.

Poor: Saw two does and two fawns the whole season. Hunted 40 days. Hard to tell how much is overkill or coyote related.

Emanuel Co. F-2, P-1

Fair: The weather really hurt us this year, way too hot. The rut seemed like it never happened.

Poor: Please bring back doe days, or either shorten the season. Less deer killed in our area over the past five years. I can see the decrease in numbers year to year by running cameras. Talked to numerous hunters and landowners in our Garfield area, and they state the same.

Evans Co. F-1

Fannin Co. F-2, P-3

Fair: I bring a lot of out-of-state hunters to my cabin. Out of state license fees to hunt deer are causing some to not come.

Fayette Co. E-1, P-1

Floyd Co. E-1, F-2, P-4

Excellent: We saw more deer this year than the previous three combined.

Poor: I have deer hunted for over 30 years. Over the last five years the deer-season rating for myself and others in the northwest Georgia area has gone down steadily.

Forsyth Co. P-1

Poor: Coyotes.

Fulton Co. E-1, G-1, F-1, P-1

Poor: Coyotes.

Franklin Co. G-1, P-3

Poor. I have four properties I hunt. Didn’t see any bucks until last two weeks of season. Everybody here shoots anything. I did see does but mostly small groups of two or three, not herds of six or seven like decades ago.

Gilmer Co. G-2, F-3, P-3

Glynn Co. P-1

Gordon Co. G-1, P-3

Poor: This county is covered up with rotten, stinking coyotes.

Grady Co. F-2

Fair: Deer population has been noticeably impacted over eight to 10 years by predators, coyotes!

Greene Co. E-1, G-4, F-2, P-6

Excellent: Have seen twice as many antlered bucks as in 2014. Many 2 1/2- and multiple 3 1/2-age-class bucks seen. Most still being observed so they survived the rut and hunting season. Good numbers of fawns survived into the fall season, but not many sets of twins observed. I suspect mama doe finds it difficult to effectively hide and protect twins from predators.

Good: Still seeing fewer does and bucks.

Fair: Not nearly the number of deer there were five years ago. People shoot a lot of does and small bucks. I wish all of Greene County was QDM.

Poor: I hunted mainly Redlands WMA and saw the lowest number of deer ever, only five deer all season long.

Habersham Co. F-1, P-2

Poor: I hunt a lot in the mountains along the Appalachian Trail. I wish the deer were there like they were in the early 80s, but there are hardly any. My proposal would be to shut down doe days and restock deer. Lots of deer in the cities need a new home, and the mountains are empty.

Hall Co. G-1, P-1

Hancock Co. E-3, G-5, F-6, P-4

Excellent: I have clearcut my acreage, and as a result, I’ve had a very excellent deer hunting season.

Good: Saw no large bucks this season. Time to stop buck restrictions in Hancock.

Good: Number of bucks harvested was down, but quality was up some.

Poor: No deer.

Haralson Co. G-2, F-1, P-2

Poor: I had a very slow year, mostly due to timber being cleared on my club. I think the doe limit needs to be lowered to five. Just not as many deer as before in Haralson and Polk counties.

Poor: Very few deer seen out of the stand, and I hunted most of the weekends. Had six cameras out prior to and all season, a couple decent bucks on them but never seen in daylight.

Harris Co. E-1, G-3, F-2, P-1

Good. Age class is key. Work with your neighbor to agree on common qdm goals, and you’re only a year or two from seeing results.

Fair: I passed on several good 2 1/2-year-old bucks but did take a nice fat doe. Our food plots came in great this year, and we saw more deer than the last few years.

Heard Co. G-3, F-1, P-1

Good: Saw several deer this season, but not a buck large enough to shoot.

Henry Co. G-1, P-1

Poor: Only two deer seen all season. Killed one.

Houston Co. F-1

Fair: I did harvest enough to fill the freezer, but it was best during the first three weeks, then everything tapered off by Thanksgiving. In the areas I hunt in southern Houston County and the northern part of Pulaski County there are far more bucks than does. The only problem with this is 90 percent of the bucks seen had extremely poor racks, antlers only on one side, or underdeveloped racks due to genes, poor food sources, lack of proper minerals or due to injuries of some type. There should be an increase from one to two bucks with no restrictions and one with the current restrictions.

Irwin Co. G-2, F-1, P-1

Poor: Saw few does and yearlings and only one 5-pointer.

Jackson Co. G-2, F-3, P-3

Good: My son and I shot two nice bucks and four does.

Good: Shot a wide-rack 8-point and saw lots of small bucks and a few more does.

Fair: The deer population in the area I hunt seems to have been on a steady decline the past few years, even though hunting pressure has been lower.

Poor: I have had a poor season for two years in a row where I did not harvest a single deer. I know the weather this year had a lot to do with it, but I hunted some in three different counties and on one WMA, and I didn’t see one single deer. The yotes are destroying the deer herd.

Poor: No movement.

Jasper Co. E-1, G-5, F-1, P-3

Good: Harvested one doe. Rattled in a few nice 2 1/2- and 3 1/2-year-old bucks, but never set eyes on a shooter. Rutting activity was a little less pronounced, but there were moments of sheer deer insanity.

Good: First half of the season was great. Second half the deer seemed to migrate to another location.

Fair: I did see more deer from the stand this year over last. I believe the limited doe season and aggressive coyote trapping have improved our herd. There was plenty of room for improvement. I would advocate for even fewer doe days. Maybe Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks to allow young hunters to have maximum opportunity to see and harvest deer would be good.

Poor: Saw very few deer, including small bucks we let walk. To many either-sex days and harvest limit too high.

Jeff Davis Co. G-1

Jefferson Co. G-1, P-1

Poor: Hot, rainy weather ruined the rut and movement.

Jenkins Co. E-1, F-3, P-2

Fair: This was a below-average year for the number of deer harvested. The weather for this season was not good. We had little cold weather. It was hard to tell when the rut occurred because of the warm temperatures.

Johnson Co. P-1

Poor: I saw 91 deer, 13 were bucks but no shooters.

Jones Co. E-1, G-2, F-4, P-3

Excellent: We put a lot of effort into our food plots, and this has greatly improved the herd.

Good: Saw a lot of deer on our property this year, five 8-points and 9-points killed with 15 hunters. More and bigger bucks were killed last year. I feel a maximum of four does is plenty.

Fair: I did take one deer this year, but the sightings were reduced.

Fair: I saw plenty of deer, but I was only able to harvest one deer this season. While it was my largest buck to date (12-point) and my first buck with a muzzleloader, it’s not going to supply me with enough meat to last until next season. I saw plenty of does when it was buck only and very few (mostly small ones) when it was doe days.

Poor: Been hunting this 200-acre tract since 1978, and this is the fewest deer I’ve seen. Don’t know if it was weather related or coyotes.

Lamar Co. E-1, F-1, P-3

Excellent: Lots of deer.

Lauren Co. E-1, G-1, F-3, P-3

Fair: Weather kept things very interesting.

Fair: The bucks do not get big since all the hunting clubs around us have the motto of, “If it’s brown, it’s down.”

Lincoln Co. G-2, F-2, P-5

Good: I had a good season simply because we have not taken a doe in two years, and as a result, I have taken a good buck the last couple of years. We were seeing deer regularly until Thanksgiving week, which is when duck season started. There was a lot of shooting, and I think that might have spooked the deer.

Poor: We see coyotes often and know our deer population is affected.

Poor: This has been the worst year for sightings in the last five years that I’ve actively hunted.

Lowndes Co. G-1, F-1, P-3

Good: Only good because a deer we did not have on camera came my way, and a nice one, too.

Poor: It was very hot throughout this entire season. With 14 hunters in my lease, I bet we didn’t kill 10 deer total. We do qdm, so we did pass on quite a few small bucks.

Poor: The weather and bumper acorn crop played a major part this season. Deer simply didn’t move because everything stayed green and all of the acorns. I had corn out that rotted on the ground.

Lumpkin Co. G-1, F-1, P-1

Fair: I hunt national forest mostly. Bow season started out real slow. After a lot of scouting in the off season, we noticed the does were not as active this year as in years past. We did not see a buck at all during bow season. I noticed a lot more hunters on public land this year. A lot of early pressure.

Macon Co. G-3, F-1, P-2

Good: Problem is coyotes. Did kill a nice 10-pointer. Have not shot a doe in five years.

Poor: The young ones that we let walk last year seem to have disappeared. We noticed a lot of shooting with the thump sound during deer movement time. With qdm rules, this massive butchering is probably legal, but it left a devastating effect on the deer population. Practicing quality-buck rules may allow for an older buck population, but at what cost?

Madison Co. E-1, G-2, F-3

Excellent: We saw a lot of deer this year and some good bucks, too.

Fair: I saw less than half the deer this year as I have over the last few years. I attribute a majority of this to the overwhelming coyote population in the area.

Fair: The herd on our property is finally back to a relatively equal, stabilized ratio after we killed five coyotes over the summer. We will hopefully see a decrease in fawn mortality with the fewer number of coyotes running on the property.

Marion Co. G-1, F-1, P-4

Poor: My husband and I purchased our hunting license at a cost of $365. We each hunted one day, and then the loggers came in. We received the e-mail the day after the loggers started. So our hunting season was over.

McDuffie Co. F-2, P-2

Poor: Season basically the same as last year with 16 members on 2,300-acre club quality managed for 22 years and only nine deer killed this year (seven last year).

Meriwether Co. E-2, G-3, F-2, P-5

Excellent: I saw plenty of deer this season. Mainly saw young bucks and does. Three quality deer were taken off our lease. Overall a great year.

Good: I killed a mediocre buck in November this year. It’s the first deer I’ve pulled the trigger on in about five years.

Good: Above average because of less agriculture in the area.

Poor: Worst season ever. I saw less than half the number of deer I normally see.

Mitchell Co. F-1, P-1

Fair: I got my two. Two gives me sausage and burger for a year.

Monroe Co. G-3, F-3

Good. I think our good season was because we have had a trapper on our land the past three years. We are now seeing more fawns with the does.

Montgomery Co. G-1, P-2

Good. Saw plenty of deer and killed two good bucks.

Morgan Co. E-1, G-2, F-2, P-1

Fair: I took a nice buck, but does were scarce.

Poor: Coyotes.

Murray Co. G-1, F-1, P-2

Newton Co. G-1, F-2

Good: High level of management.

Oconee Co. E-1, F-2, P-1

Excellent: This deer season I probably saw between 60-70 deer total, which is average for my season on our tract of land. I saw three distinct rutting phases, late October to early November, early December and again in early January. The warm weather in mid to late December had a huge effect on deer movement, and we saw very little deer during that time.

Oglethorpe Co. E-3, G-5, F-8, P-4

Fair: The doe population seemed markedly reduced over previous years. We heard fewer coyotes this years as compared to previous years.

Poor: Very poor season, saw very few deer and lots of coyotes.

Paulding Co. G-1, P-1

Peach Co. E-1

Excellent: Best year I have ever had, and I am 67 years old. Saw 47 deer on a 28-acre plot. Most were young so should be a bumper season next year. Only concern was only three of the 47 were bucks.

Pike Co. G-2, F-1

Good: Saw deer almost every trip.

Fair: I saw deer, but all my shooter deer moved out of area due to timber cutting.

Polk Co. F-2, P-6

Poor. Hunted all of November and December. Saw 14 deer. I know there is a lot of local pressure year-round where I hunt. They shoot anything and everything no matter when it is. That is one problem, but the biggest problem is the coyotes.

Poor: I think the doe days should be stopped for a couple of years in my area so the herd could grow larger.

Pulaski Co. E-1, G-2, F-1

Putnam Co. E-2, G-2, F-4, P-2

Excellent: I didn’t hunt a whole lot this season, but I did see deer every time I went in the woods. Shot one mature buck. More bigger bucks showing up in the county.

Fair: Over the past five years, the quality of deer has gone down instead of going up.

Quitman Co. F-1

Rabun Co. G-1, P-1

Poor. Four months of bad weather.

Randolph Co. E-1, F-1

Excellent: I bagged an 11-pointer and two does.

Fair: Very warm temperatures and a bumper crop of acorns kept deer from using food plots and feeders. The rut seemed to be very intense mid-November compared to past years. Did not see much more rutting activity the remainder of the season.

Richmond Co. F-1

Fair. I hunt Fort Gordon and did not shoot anything. I looked for more mature bucks and didn’t see many does in the areas I hunted like I did 10 years ago.

Rockdale Co. F-1

Schley Co. G-2, F-1

Good: We hunt a little more than 600 acres and have been overrun with does. This year we killed two does per 100 acres. It will be interesting to see if it does anything.

Screven Co. F-2

Fair: In the past we could usually see 15-25 deer on an afternoon hunt from one stand. This year we averaged 10-15. I know the warm conditions were a factor, but we do have a bad coyote problem.

Fair: Coyotes are a huge problem here. The WRD was slow to acknowledge the problem, and they don’t have a solution. I commend GON for at least offering an incentive to kill coyotes through their Coyote Cull contest.

Spalding Co. G-3, P-1

Stephens Co. G-1, P-2

Poor: The overall population is so low that many properties do not have enough deer sign to fill a coffee cup.

Stewart Co. E-2, F-1

Excellent: Lots of deer.

Sumter Co. E-1, F-1, P-1

Excellent: My son and I killed four deer, three healthy bucks.

Talbot Co. G-3, F-4, P-9

Fair: If you don’t mind shooting 100-inch bucks, you can have fun all season.

Fair: Season is just too long. High bag limit, high coyote pressure, high hunting pressure, all just too much for herd.

Poor: Saw very few deer this season, similar to last year. Over hunting by neighboring leases and coyotes are to blame.

Poor: I shot zero deer on my lease of 350 acres a couple miles from Big Lazar WMA. I saw a dozen bucks throughout the season, 90 percent weren’t legal bucks in Talbot. We all figure it must have to do with the weather this year.

Taliaferro Co. G-1, F-5, P-1

Fair: I was able to tag out on bucks with a 4-pointer and a 8-pointer. My chief complaint is that I only saw one doe. We have 1,300 acres and 24 members who bring guests, and as far as I know, there were no does shot on our club. The harvest was very low this year. Maybe it is due to coyotes?

Poor: We have no deer, and even the coyotes have left.

Tattnall Co. F-2, P-1

Poor: Most of the deer I saw were within the first 10 days.

Taylor Co. E-2, G-1, F-2, P-1

Excellent: Best season in 25 years.

Good: Too hot to be great.

Telfair Co. E-1

Terrell Co. G-1, P-1

Thomas Co. G-1, P-1

Tift Co. G-1

Toombs Co. G-1, P-1

Good: Good season. Acorn crop was amazing. Rut activity was minimum.

Poor: Number of deer down due to coyotes and too many does killed.

Towns Co. P-2

Poor: Deer numbers in the mountains are almost decimated compared to the deer numbers in the early to mid 80s. What deer we see are the few in the fields and subdivisions.

Treutlen Co. G-1, P-1

Troup Co. G-2, F-4, P-3

Fair: Very few bucks sighted or taken for the last several years on our lease. There has been a decrease in overall harvest in the last three years mainly due to coyote predation.

Turner Co. F-1

Twiggs Co. E-1, G-1, F-3, P-3

Fair: Did not see nearly as many deer in 2015-2016 season as last year.

Poor: Rain, warm temps.

Union Co. G-2, F-1, P-1

Good: Last year’s bumper mast crop in the mountains saved and prospered many a deer last year leading to sightings of more mature and healthier deer with more antler than is typical. Harvested one 4-year-old 8-point and one nice doe. All tags could’ve been easily filled if it were deemed necessary.

Poor: Hunters with attitude of, “It’s brown, it’s down” and coyotes eating the fawns. It’s no wonder there are no deer.

Upson Co. G-2, F-3, P-3

Good: I saw lots of deer up until Thanksgiving. After that, I saw nothing.

Fair: Only one decent buck taken, and deer seemed to disappear after first week of November.

Walker Co. E-1, G-3, F-1, P-2

Excellent: Saw plenty of deer, including numerous bucks. Fortunate to hunt private land surrounded by other large landowners.

Good: I saw a decent number of deer this year and killed an 8-pointer. I believe the reduction in doe days in my county has helped the deer herd. I also think the way the doe days are distributed are a help, as well.

Walton Co. F-3, P-4

Fair: Saw several shooter bucks but did not harvest a deer this year.

Warren Co. E-1, G-1, F-1, P-4

Excellent: Killed two very nice bucks and saw deer almost every time I hunted. We started a coyote elimination program 18 months ago at a total cost of under $100. This year yearlings were everywhere. Turkeys, rabbits and quail are back in numbers.

Poor: Bad weather.

Poor: Saw very few deer and didn’t shoot any.

Washington Co. E-1, G-1, F-3, P-2

Good: Our target amount of five deer for three families was met.

Fair: I saw a total of only 13 deer while on the stand this season, as opposed to 25 deer seen last year.

Poor: Worst year in more than 30 years. On 300 acres only three deer killed.

Wayne Co. G-1, F-1, P-3

Fair: I saw some deer toward the end of the season, but it was so hot most of the fall, and the skeeters were so bad, I didn’t hunt much.

Poor: The only pictures taken of deer were during one night at the beginning of the season. After that, not one deer.

Wheeler Co. P-1

Poor: The deer population is down.

Wilkes Co. G-4, F-4, P-10

Good: We saw more deer this year, but it is still nowhere as good as it was several years ago.

Poor: I thought last year was bad. This year was even worse. The kids won’t go with me anymore because we never see any deer. Yotes have taken over.

Poor: The yotes have taken over. We have to stop 12 deer bag limits and control coyotes somehow.

Wilkinson Co. E-1, G-5, F-1

Good: Overall I saw more rutting activity of any season before. I also saw fewer deer than any season before. Killed my biggest buck this year and biggest WMA buck, also. I think the current one quality buck rule has improved the quality of deer, but we need buck-only days in our county to improve numbers.

Worth Co. E-1, G-2, P-1

Poor: Deer did not move as much, and sightings were down. I attribute it to warm weather and a huge mast crop. This has been confirmed by many in the area.


97% Report Coyotes Having Negative Impacts On Local Deer Herd

Wow! When you lump together the number of VOTES respondents who said coyotes were having negative impacts on their local deer herds, we see that 97.7 percent of hunters say coyotes are playing a factor. Breaking it down, we see that 82.8 percent of those hunters say coyotes are having either high or medium negative impacts, with 47.5 percent of them saying the song dogs have high negative impacts on their local deer herds.

The GON survey may not be a “scientific study,” but come on… looks like we got a problem folks.

Coyotes remain a topic of discussion around campfires these days. For many years, hunters claimed that non-native song dogs were eating deer, but many of those in charge of managing state wildlife brushed it off.

Then, scientific studies proved that coyotes were indeed affecting local deer herds in certain situations. A study referred to as “The Predator Pit” proved that once deer levels reached a certain low level in areas where coyotes were living, the deer population can not rebound unless something is done about the coyotes.

Hunters who followed the “shoot every doe you see” mentality brought on by the quality deer management era that began over a decade ago all of a sudden found themselves with very few deer. What changed? Coyotes came, multiplied and now live in every Georgia county. It’s a change in the Georgia deer hunting equation that we’re now faced with.  Now what?

The campfire discussions about coyotes heats up as many hunters claim that not only is WRD doing very little about the problem, but there is still some sentiment from the department that coyotes really aren’t a big problem, proved by lack of action.

Our readers had some suggestions as to what WRD could be doing to correct the problem, along with some personal testimonies about how coyotes are negatively affecting them. Some hunters have taken their problem into their own hands and started trapping. Many of these hunters are reporting a big difference in not only their deer populations, but also turkey, quail and rabbit.

The following are some of the comments from our GON readers.

• Coyotes are still very bad, and I witnessed two coyotes running fawns.

• I am very concerned about coyotes. I had some hunters who saw coyotes but not deer. I think we should reduce the number of antlerless deer killed and put a bounty on coyotes.

• We did not see many coyotes this year.

• After five years of trapping, trap-smart coyotes have increased their population to about where it was five years ago. I would suggest any tax increase for licenses be tied to a progressive coyote bounty program. The only way to eradicate coyotes from Georgia is through reintroduction of red wolves, but that is a whole other can of worms.

• Low. Didn’t see one coyote this season. Very little visual sign in our area.

• Based on the deer herd where I hunt on private land in Union County, could not justifiably say that coyotes have had a negative impact on the local herd.

• We’ve had a trapper come out after deer season the last two years, and he’s done well on getting the coyotes, but we still see quite a few. They have to take a toll on the deer.

• Hear coyotes howling in the distance almost every night around the campfire. I think they’re having a serious impact.

• I have killed nine coyotes over the years chasing mature deer, so I know they are killing a great number of fawns.

• Coyotes are a huge problem for deer. Just hired a trapper on my 3,150-acre lease. In three weeks, he removed 30 coyotes, and club members shot another 13. Very expensive to do, but we plan to trap every other year if our camera and hunter observations show an increase in yotes.

• Coyotes are a problem. We trapped a few but not enough. Still see their sign a lot.

• Coyotes are having an impact on our farm. We are trapping and hunting them but not sure what impact we are having. We see less of them during hunting season than during the spring when we hunt and trap for them.

• I have a low rating due to lack of proof of negative impact. I did see more coyotes while in the stand but not carcasses or wounded animals.

• I have had a professional trapper trapping coyotes on my property for four years and have seen a significant increase in fawns each year.

• Not going to beat the coyote thing to death. They are a problem period.

• Coyotes are having a huge affect on our deer population. However, after the first article on trapping coyotes in GON, I bought traps and caught 17 coyotes last year! This year we had multiple fawns on camera, which has been rare in recent years. Trapping works!

• Coyotes are a major problem on our deer population in Georgia. We have to get DNR to realize this, acknowledge it and do something about it. Thanks GON for what you are doing to educate our hunters in the state.

• Coyotes are definitely having an impact on deer hunting and small-game hunting. I shot a doe last year, and she was half eaten before I found her at 11 a.m.

• Coyotes don’t seem to pose an immediate problem in Lumpkin County on the national forest we hunt on. I didn’t see any or any herd damage. Did not hear of any. I have been seeing them more often on Georgia 400 between Dawsonville and Cumming.

• Shot seven coyotes this deer season, that seems high to me. Coyotes are now stalking deer feeders.

• I practice predator control 12 months of the year, so not a big issue here.

• Coyotes have cut deer herd by more than 50 percent. Heard or saw coyotes almost every day or night. Heard almost no shots. I killed one coyote and saw seven more.


Strong Majority Want Lower Doe Limits

More than 90 percent of Georgia hunters reported to GON that they would like to see a lower antlerless bag limit.

WRD has made some changes in the deer seasons in the last few years, bringing back the traditional “doe days” for some where many hunters can only shoot a buck on certain days. Still, most hunters want the current limit of 10 antlerless deer per hunter lowered, with the most popular response being between 1-4 antlerless deer per hunter.

Many claim that the liberal limit means hunters on traditional, smaller clubs give the few bad apples in the bunch the ability to wear out a local population. Others say that lowering the deer limit could hurt management efforts from larger landowners who still need to kill a large number of does.

The following are some of the comments from our GON readers.

• Twelve total deer for one person is too many. A more realistic number would be four total with an opportunity to purchase two additional tags if desired.

• I would set it back to maybe four and give more doe days. I have two sons who like to hunt, but having limited amount of doe days this year has nearly turned them away from hunting all together.

• I feel a 5-7 antlerless deer bag limit is realistic. I do not know of anyone who shoots 10 antlerless deer in one year. However, for the people who do shoot 10 per year, we need to reduce that count to grow the herd and help reduce the impact of the coyotes.

• The doe population should be capped at two until herd numbers have rebounded.

• One buck of choice, second buck 4 on one side, three does, five total.

• Leave the same. Most I know only shoot enough 1-2 to fill the freezer. I feel that some landowners need the freedom of a liberal limit to control the population on their tracts. Majority of rational and fair-chase hunters don’t need limits to tell them what’s acceptable for their land. The lawless will shoot them regardless of limits imposed.

• The antlerless limit is good at 10. Nobody in my lease has shot more than three in any season for the past 15 years.

• The limit should have never been raised to 10 in the first place. That served no purpose other than to reduce the deer herd statewide because of the deer/auto collisions and the amount of cost to the insurance companies.

• 1-4. Too many people have the term, “If it’s brown, it’s down.”

• I’d like to see the antlerless deer limit at three or four. This would increase fawn recruitment and hopefully increase survival rate with the number of coyotes.

• Moving here from out West, I found it somewhat alarming the number of deer one could harvest. Out West, it was one antlered animal per season or possibly a doe during a deprivation hunt.

• As far as bag limit on does, I feel four is plenty for anybody. At least until population rebounds to where it was several years ago.

• I’m in favor of liberal bag limits to allow land managers and property owners to exercise discretion in managing their properties.

• I would support an antlerless bag limit of one to two or maybe even zero for a year or two. I personally believe the population is 25 percent of what it was 10 years ago in my area.

• Five does and two bucks is plenty of meat for a family to live on.

• If the state says that no one is shooting 10 does, lower the limit.  The symbolic stance will mean something.

• I think the doe limit should be three does. We monitor our game cameras all year long to see roughly how many deer are in the area, and we  limit ourselves to two does apiece each year on our property.


Miscellaneous VOTES Comments

Sportsmen are a passionate bunch! We enjoy getting miscellaneous comments about Georgia hunting. Here a few that folks sent in along with their cover ballot.

• Probably the most disappointing thing I see happening in our area is the, “If I don’t shoot this buck, someone else will” philosophy. It is slowly changing, but there still exists foolish folks who shoot six to 10 young bucks, and in their minds don’t even see the wrong in it! Absolutely sickening for those of us who hold out for 3-year-old and older bucks. Tag soup does not bother me.

• There should be one day allowed to hunt bears in Pulaski County. We have had several problems with bears charging individuals in our hunting club and with bears destroying trail cams and deer-feeding equipment.

• The owner of the property who borders ours erected a high fence, virtually eliminating any deer from entering my property. I’ve hunted and tried to improve for quality deer management over the past 15 years. The fencing went up four days after the season opened, and my deer sightings went to zero for almost three weeks. Some deer have entered the property, but it is not to the level it was prior to the fence being erected.

• Cut out permits to farmers to kill at night.

• Extending the deer season was a bad idea. Small-game hunting was severely impacted for those of us who enjoy squirrel, rabbit and waterfowl hunting. I would like to see the deer season shortened, not extended.

• The Northern Zone and Southern Zone should both be able to bait.

• Stop allowing farmers to kill deer in their fields at night. I have heard reports of farmers killing countless numbers of deer year-round. This practice is not fair for hunters who support the legal hunting and conservation of our deer. Hunters are the reason we have deer.

• Encourage hunters who routinely feed corn for deer to be good stewards of the countryside and not allow empty corn bags to blow out of their trucks. Next to fast-food sacks, empty corn bags are the most common form of roadside litter in our area.

• I believe Georgia needs to adopt a law concerning the wearing of blaze orange.  If a hunter is hunting on private land, the requirement should be waived. Blaze orange should only be required while hunting on public land.

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