With deer season in full swing and other game seasons either in progress or approaching, local sports and feed stores are busy trying to keep up with demand for firearms, ammunition, hunting gear and bait.
Yes, it is legal to hunt deer over bait now, said Drew Wiggins, manager at Anderson’s General Store. The practice was once against the law, but within the past few years the state of Georgia now allows it over private lands. It remains unlawful on state or federal lands.
“We are selling a ton of deer corn,” he said.
Seed for food plots is also selling fast.
The store also sells a lot of hunting gear and is anticipating the upcoming duck season that starts Nov. 23. Duck dog supplies and duck calls are expected to start flying off shelves soon, he said.
Anderson’s doesn’t sell guns, but Rahn Riethke, employee at TC Outdoors, said hunting rifles are a hot commodity these days.
“The 6.5 Creedmore is pretty popular,” he said.
He expects to see the sale of shotguns increase when duck season rolls around.
There is a bulletin board in the store where hunters can display photos of their latest trophies, but Riethke said he hasn’t seen any big buck pictures yet. However, “We’re hearing a lot of people say they have seen some of the biggest bucks ever this season.”
Both he and Wiggins said the traffic has been steady as hunters get geared up for the monster bucks, ducks or other game that is legal to take around this time of year.
Locally, deer season is the “big deal." According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, deer season technically opened Sept. 14 with archery season. Primitive weapons season opened Oct. 12, and firearms season began Oct. 19. The seasons run through Jan. 12.
Hunters with a big game license can take 12 deer within the season, but no more than 10 can be antlerless, and no more than two can have antlers. Of the two antlered deer (usually bucks), one must have a rack with one side having at least four points an inch or longer. This gives those “button bucks” a better chance to grow into the massive 12-point bucks everyone seeks.
It’s not all about the deer, though. For hunters who just love the sport, or who want to fill freezers, it is open season with no limit on feral hogs.
Farmers and landowners are likely to welcome hog hunters, but remember to always have a landowner’s written permission in case the game warden drops by.
There is no season for these destructive animals, and night hunting is legal, if you are on private property. Hunting and trapping over bait is OK, too. If the land is yours or belongs to a blood relative, you don’t need a big game license, according to the Georgia DNR. Just don’t transport any live feral hogs, or you could end up fined up to $5,000.
Other nuisance animals are fair game too, with no season or limit. These include coyotes, armadillos, groundhogs, beavers, starlings, pigeons and English sparrows.
Small game such as rabbits, squirrels and quail have a limit of 12 per day. Squirrel season opened Aug. 14 and ends March 14. Rabbits and quail came into season Oct. 1, and the season runs to March 15.
Dove season hunting dates are Sept. 7–30, Nov. 23–Dec. 1 and Dec. 6–Jan. 31.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.